Under the theme “Mobile: The Next Element”, Mobile World Congress will be held 27 February – 2 March 2017 at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, with events also taking place at Fira Montjuïc. The GSMA expects more than 101,000 attendees this year. CommsMEA is happy to be a media partner for the much-awaited event yet again this year.
“The 2017 edition of Mobile World Congress will highlight just how elemental mobile has become in our everyday lives and the positive impact it is having for billions of people around the world,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer, GSMA.
More than 2,200 companies will exhibit at MWC 2017, including AOL, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Ford, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HTC, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, NEC, Nokia Solutions and Networks, Oracle, Orange, Philips Lighting, Qualcomm Incorporated, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sony Mobile, Telefónica, Vodafone, Volkswagen and ZTE, among others.
The conference at Mobile World Congress will be held 27 February – 2 March and will explore topics such as connecting the unconnected, digital commerce, digital content, disruptive technologies, enterprise mobility, financial services, IoT and connected living, mobile identity and privacy, next-generation networks and security, among others. Keynote speakers include John Stankey, CEO–AT&T entertainment group, AT&T Services; Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA; Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO, Kaspersky Lab; Rajeev Suri, president and CEO, Nokia; José María Álvarez-Pallete López, chairman and CEO, Telefónica; Reed Hastings, founder and CEO, Netflix; and Patrick Gelsinger, CEO, VMware among many other distinguished speakers.
Hall 8.0 now focuses on next generation technology, including an area dedicated to the most forward-thinking, innovative companies with the potential to disrupt the mobile ecosystem. It will combine a state-of-the-art exhibition with a thought leadership lab and partner programmes. The IoT pavilion was such a hit in 2016 that it has been doubled in size this year.
The industry's distinguished companies will return this year including AT&T, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Ford Motor Company, Google, Huawei, IBM, Lenovo, LG, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung SK Telecom, Sony, Telefonica, VMware, Vodafone and ZTE. New exhibitors for 2017 include DJI, Darkmatter, Mercedes, Verizon and Volkswagen.
Continuing from last year’s theme of 'Connecting Everyone and Everything to a Better Future', the 2017 ministerial programme will bring together senior government and industry leaders from both developing and developed countries to exchange views on the state of the mobile industry, and the policies and initiatives that can maximise value for citizens in the digital age.
GSMA Innovation city
Guests can visit the GSMA innovation city now in Hall 4 and experience the latest mobile connected products and services in a unique experiential environment. Brands such as AT&T, Cisco Jasper, KT Corporation, Sierra Wireless, Huawei and Unlimit by Reliance Communications will join the GSMA to showcase the latest technology in areas such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), security and identity.
4 Years from Now (4YFN)
4YFN is the digital start-up event of Mobile World Congress and Mobile World Capital. During the three day event, 4YFN features influential speakers, interactive workshops, cutting-edge exhibitions, and unique networking opportunities including the exclusive Founders and Investors programme. Newly announced speakers include Netflix, Deutsche Bank, Just Eat, WPP Group and more.
Women4Tech is a new MWC programme designed to address gender gap in the industry. Women4Tech events and activities will give attendees insights into best practices and industry action for female leadership in the digital age. It supports the UN SDGs, particularly SDG 5 (gender equality). The Women4Tech Summit is scheduled for Thursday, 2, where senior leaders discuss integrating gender equality into the mainstream of work environments and share strategic advice on how to empower gender diversity in mobile and related industries.
MWC 2016 was the first big public event for Nokia after closing of the Alcatel Lucent deal. This was where Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri quashed rumours about possible sale of the fixed networks business. He said: “We have no plans to divest. Previously it was sub-scale, today it is profitable.” He further added that IoT and 5G are central to the new Nokia.
US operator Verizon upped the stakes in the 5G race, with the announcement that it will move to pre-commercial form factors and testing later in 2016.
A host of global operators, GSMA and Google launched a new industry initiative to accelerate the availability of Rich Communications Services (RCS). The move was proposed at enabling an open, consistent and globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices.
More than 40 smartphones were launched at the 2016 edition of MWC though the innovation showcased in those was not too overwhelming. Sony Mobile unveiled its latest additions to the Xperia smartphone line, called Xperia X. Speaking at the company’s press conference, Hiroki Totki, head of Sony Mobile said: “There is still much more we can do to evolve smartphones. But do you really need smartphones that are full of additional functions that you never use?” Qualcomm also emphasised that “Innovation in the handset is not constrained to the 4.5-inch or 5-inch screen in the device; it’s everything surrounding it, including the ability to capture virtual reality and watch it and share it over wireless with friends and family”.
167 wearables were on display, of which 153 were aimed at the consumer market and 14 at the enterprise space. AR headsets dominated the show. Virtual reality (VR) took centre stage at a number of stands at Mobile World Congress. However, questions continued to loom over the business model, both for device manufacturers and content creators.
The excitement for 5G was there throughout as several equipment vendors demonstrated 5G technologies live at the show. Quite a few strategic partnerships were announced along with some bullish dates for the launch of 5G.
SDN and NFV, which are believed to underpin the development and roll out of 5G, were discussed throughout the MWC. There was consensus around the need of service providers to consider virtualisation as a core part of their technology roadmap to reduce cost, accelerate time to market and implement innovative business models.
The importance of connecting the unconnected was highlighted at several sessions including the one by Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook announced the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), an engineering-focused, collaborative initiative between telecoms operators, infrastructure providers, systems integrators and other technology companies to develop new technologies and reimagine traditional approaches to network deployment. On similar lines, Google’s Project Loon partnership with operators was aimed at enabling it to directly transmit 4G signals to mobile handsets on the ground by sharing operators’ mobile spectrum.
Mobile payments and digital commerce were also prominent subjects at the 2016 edition. PayPal president CEO Dan Schulman stressed the need to make financial transactions easier, faster, more secure and most importantly less expensive, in order to make a real difference in the world. He added how PayPal is expanding its consumer platform because people are asking for more types of funding.
Mobile networks were focussed upon as the enablers of IoT. There were several demonstrations in the Innovation City around the same. LPWA became a key target. Several companies showcased IoT platforms.
MWC 2016 further highlighted the graveness of the security threat landscape as the number of end points goes up substantially with IoT. Darktrace CTO Dave Palmer suggested we were in a “golden age of hacking” with mobile internet and machine-to-machine connections needing particular attention.
GSMA launched the Connected Women Commitment Initiative, with initial commitments from operator members aiming to connect millions more women in low and middle-income countries by 2020.
Ford CEO, Mark Fields, had said how the company is looking to transition from an “automotive company” to an “auto and mobility” company, through its smart mobility efforts. MWC always has been the platform to showcase achievments and set new benchmarks in connectivity for companies worldwide. It would be worth waiting to watch what the 2017 edition unfolds.