10 key announcements at MWC2016

CommsMEA rounds up some of the big news from last month's Mobile World Congress
(David Ramos/Getty Images)
(David Ramos/Getty Images)

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1. M-Pesa comes to new markets

HomeSend expanded its global framework agreement with Vodafone Group for M-Pesa, including the launch of remittance services into new African markets during 2016. The two companies will work together to enable the real-time, mobile receipt of remittances by M-Pesa users in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho and Mozambique. HomeSend, a joint venture between MasterCard, eServGlobal and BICS, has already launched connections for inbound remittances with M-Pesa in both Tanzania and Kenya. M-Pesa had approximately 24.6 million active customers at the end of last year, most of them in Africa, and approximately 236,000 agents worldwide.

2. ZTE and Korea Telecom showcase 'Pre5G'

ZTE Corporation and Korea Telecom jointly demonstrated ‘Pre5G’ at Mobile World Congress 2016. The companies showed off a multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) base station. The Pre5G Massive MIMO base station utilises the multi-antenna space division multiple access (SDMA) technology to improve existing 4G wireless frequency spectrum efficiency by ‘four to six times’, the companies claim. In a commercial network, the average single-carrier peak rate of Pre5G Massive MIMO exceeds 400 Mbps. ZTE has developed the solution to meet increased capacity expansion requirements and to address the difficulty of finding site locations.

3. HTC reveals street price for its Vive VR system

HTC unveiled more details about its ‘Vive’ virtual reality system. Developed with PC gaming giant Steam, Vive will retail for a hefty $800, but it comes with two custom-made controllers, each with 24 sensors and haptic triggers. It features 32 headset sensors for 360° motion tracking and a 110° field of view. The screens inside the headset offer 2160 x 1200 combined resolution and a 90 Hz refresh rate to improve graphics performance. VR was a major focus area at the event and competition will be intense, with Facebook-owned Oculus, Samsung and Sony all developing headsets.

4. Nissan unveils its latest connected electric car

Electric vehicle maker Nissan ‘unboxed’ its new connected, software-enabled vehicle, the Nissan LEAF 30 kWh, at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2016. As well as boasting a potential 26% increase in driving range (250 km on a single charge) via a new 30 kWh battery, the new MY16 LEAF features an improved version of the brand’s acclaimed NissanConnect EV infotainment system. Nissan marked the event with a live ‘unboxing’ of the new MY16 Nissan LEAF 30 kWh while debuting a new film highlighting a raft of new updates available on the latest edition of the car. It features a raft of in-built location and performance tracking apps, with the ability to manage and monitor the car remotely through 4G networks.

5. Ericsson predicts EVEN more disruption

Ericsson president and CEO Hans Vestberg said in his keynote that digital disruption will come to every industry in 2016 and made major announcements in 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud. “Along with our industry and our customers, Ericsson is on a transformation journey,” he said. “Today, 66 percent of our business comes from software and services; just years ago the majority was hardware. The majority of our principal competitors are ICT players, rather than telecommunications businesses. Our portfolio is constantly evolving to keep pace with customer demands. Now, with industries and even whole societies being disrupted by mobility, broadband and cloud, we are accelerating our own transformation.” Ericsson has agreements with 20 major operators around the world to work together on 5G. In the IoT domain, it offers services and software solutions, and it is collaborating with AT&T to bring the IoT into the home. Ericsson has plans to form a cloud partnership aimed at telcos with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

6. Finland unveils advanced 5G test network

Finland introduced the world’s ‘most advanced’ 5G test network at Mobile World Congress 2016. The platform unites global telecommunications vendors, SMEs, network operators, public authorities, universities and research institutes. The 5G Test Network Finland is also open to companies from outside Finland, offering a test bed that will help ensure new products and services are equipped for the new technology. “5G is a vital future technology enabling very high quality multimedia and cloud-based services, as well as the future development of the Industrial Internet and other businesses, while reducing energy consumption. The 5G test network gives Finland a unique competitive edge in the race towards the digital future,” said Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland. For the first time, the network brings together the ‘big three’ of Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

7. Samsung unveils new flagship handset

Samsung unveiled the S7, its new flagship phone, and successor to the coolly-received S6. The most notable thing about the S7 is that it restories the expandable storage slot left out of the S6 last year. The phone features a 5.1”, 1440p, high-density screen and it is IP68 water resistant (1.5m for up to 30 minutes). The company announced that the Exynos 8 Octa, its second generation mobile processor built on 14nm FinFET technology, will power the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, a premium variant with curved edges.

8. Huawei launches more hardware and joins 5G test network

Huawei signalled its hardware ambitions with the launch of the MateBook, a 2-in-1 device designed to be a mobile productivity tool that can icombine mobility, personal productivity work and entertainment. Pricing starts at $699/€799. “With this landmark device, Huawei is demonstrating our industry-leading design and manufacturing expertise by bringing a beautifully crafted flagship product to market that is redefining the new style of business – connected computing across all devices in almost every scenario,” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. It was also confirmed that Huawei would be joining Finland’s 5G test network.

9. InfiNet helps relieve backhaul bottlenecks

InfiNet Wireless, a speciallist in fixed broadband wireless connectivity, has unveiled a new version of the InfiLINK XG. The product was designed by Infinet to primarily relieve the bottleneck problems experienced by mobile service providers in the backhauling part of their 3G/4G networks. It also works as a solution for LTE Small Cell transport networks in urban areas. According to a statement, InfiLINK XG offers significantly improved spectral efficiency of up to 14 bps/Hz, as well as a capacity surpassing 500Mbps in just 40 MHz of spectrum. Kamal Mokrani, global vice president at InfiNet Wireless, said: “Our advanced InfiLink XG product... has proven high throughput, high reliability in extreme operating conditions and ultra-low latency”

10. Rejuvenated Nokia looks towards 5G and IoT

Nokia has outlined its approach as a renewed company for leading the development of next-generation 5G technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). CEO Rajeev Suri, whose company recently acquired Alcatel-Lucent, announced a new 5G-ready AirScale radio access product to replace the Flexi base station; Nokia’s acquisition of Nakina, a Canadian security software company; and the company’s launch of a US $350 million IoT investment fund through Nokia’s private venture firm, Nokia Growth Partners. “We are planning to dramatically increase our investment in 5G this year and unleash the power of our massive innovation engine,” Suri said. “We are already at the forefront of making 5G a reality and enabling massive capacity and massive connectivity; this is an integral part of our vision,” Suri said.

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