This year’s Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona, Spain, offered more than a glimpse of where the telecoms industry is heading, and it’s impressive.
Sure, this year saw a continuation of the themes that we’ve all been familiar with in the past couple of years. LTE made its presence felt even more, mobile apps took over an entire hall, with the likes of BlackBerry and Nokia touting their latest communication suites and applications.
But the difference this year was the level of maturity of areas such as LTE. There was more evidence of LTE devices coming to market, with most manufacturers confirming timeframes for new handsets.
On the eve of the Congress, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei unveiled its latest handset, the Ascend D Quad, which it billed as the world’s fastest smartphone. With Huawei’s KSV2 quad-core 1.5GHz processor and a 32-bit graphics processor powering the device, this claim appears to hold some weight. Huawei also confirmed that an LTE-enabled version of the device would be available in Q3 to Q4.
Another running theme was related directly to the shiny new, bandwidth hungry devices that vied for attention at the event.
Behind the superfast processing speeds of the smartphones and tablets, and the bandwidth hungry apps they enable, lies ever more stretched networks and this was not something that the vendors or operators ran away from. Indeed, they embraced the challenge.
For example, Swedish vendor Ericsson, which commandeered all of Hall 6 at the event, used the event to stress its latest technology to optimise networks and help operators cope with surging traffic.
To help operators meet this challenge, Ericsson launched SON Optimization Manager, a self-organising networks (SON) product that automates the process of optimising the capacity, coverage and quality of mobile networks.
Ericsson also demonstrated a fascinating new technology that allows people to act as the transfer medium for digital files, including photographs. The person who wants to transfer the file simply touches a metal plate that is fixed onto the back of a regular smartphone with one hand, and touches another metal plate attached to another device with their other hand. The person’s body effectively becomes a conductor for the data. A recent video of Ericsson CEO hans Vestberg demonstrating the technology in the US can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, Huawei announced the launch of the world’s first 10GE CSR (Cell Site Router) ATN 950B for LTE backhaul. The router strengthens the capabilities of Huawei mobile broadband solutions, enabling carriers to deploy extra-large LTE networks and provide improved mobile data services for their use.
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Other more niche players, such as India’s Elite Core, touted the need for strategies such as WiFi offload as a means to help operators offer seamless mobile broadband services more cost effectively, particularly in metropolitan areas.
But it was not just vendors and app developers that made themselves heard at Mobile World Congress. Operators also took centre stage during the keynote speeches on the first day of the event.
During the keynote addresses, Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone Group called for an end to the “autopilot regulation” which he said now prevails in much of the world.
He described such regulationas an old regulatory approach that was “maybe justified 15 years, ago but keeps growing and growing,” he said. “We need supportive regulation.”
Elsewhere, operators also demonstrated the potential to grow revenues in new areas. UAE telco Etisalat, which had a strong presence at this year’s event, signed a deal to push forward in the much talked-about M2M sector.
During the event, Etisalat signed a deal with US machine-to-machine communication (M2M) specialist Jasper Wireless. Jasper Wireless’ platform will help Etisalat to drive the entry of new categories of connected devices on its network and connect and manage embedded wireless devices.