What did we learn at MWC 2022?

By Amr Houssein
Amr Houssein, Managing Director of telecom solution specialist Mobilise, discusses his highlights from this year's Mobile World Congress event in Spain

After two years of rescheduling, virtual alternatives and a smaller in-person event in June 2021, Mobile World Congress’ (MWC) 2022 event was a breath of fresh air for tech professionals across the globe — 61,000 of which flocked to Barcelona, Spain, in March 2022. A time for meaningful conversation and dozens of industry updates and announcements, what can we predict from the hot topics at telecoms’ largest event? Here, Amr Houssein, managing director of telecom solution specialist Mobilise, shares his takeaways from MWC 2022.

Undoubtedly, the main buzz of the event gathered around the metaverse, virtual reality (VR) and 5G. SK Telecom’s solo exhibition hall presented the 4D metaverse, where visitors had the opportunity to experience urban air mobility, travelling through a virtual meta-planet. At HTC VIVE’s stand, even more metaverse updates were announced, including the launch of the VIVE Browser, a VR web browser, and VIVE Connect, a portal to HTC’s own metaverse known as the Viverse. HTC also showcased its 5G capabilities, building a low latency 5G network specifically to power demos at MWC using its 5G Reign Core product.

It wasn’t just HTC that showcased a new 5G offering. From MWC, it’s clear 5G networks are no longer just the edgy older sibling of their 4G predecessor, but actually have the potential to upgrade the telecoms landscape and — with the addition of new technologies — unlock a multitude of new enterprise use cases and 5G monetisation strategies. 

Mobile network operator (MNO) Orange kicked things off, unveiling its plan to switch off 2G and 3G connectivity across Europe by 2025 and 2030 respectively, in order to free up spectrum for 5G applications. Additionally, device technology saw several upgrades, including Qualcomm’s announcement of its new Snapdragon X70 chipset. The new chipset supports 5G AI processors and boasts an integrated 5G Moden-RF system for speed and network efficiency, and elevated customer experience. 

Keeping things private

Despite this, it was private 5G networks that really captured the eyes and ears of attendees. MWC 2022 saw heaps of keynotes, products and displays around the development of these networks. 

Boston Dynamics’ star of the show, SPOT the robot dog demonstrated the potential of private 5G applications by both IBM and AWS. A mobile robot with sensor devices and analytics on its back, SPOT illustrated how the convergence of 5G and private networks could benefit industries like manufacturing, by providing connectivity on a separate network that operates in a spectrum that does not interfere with manufacturing signals. 

Private 5G networks have traditionally been designed for large, complex set-ups and involve a lengthy deployment timescale, but several transformative services were announced at MWC 2022 that will simplify adoption. Cisco announced its private 5G-as-a-service offering, with a pay-as-you-use subscription model and simple integration with existing business systems, while AT&T partnered with Microsoft to launch its Private 5G Edge platform, enabling low-latency services at the edge for use in manufacturing, retail and healthcare, which will be commercially available later this year. 

Elevating eSIMs

Embedded SIMs, or eSIMs were another talking point, with the eSIM Summit taking place on day three of MWC 2022. eSIMs eliminate the need for physical SIM cards, enabling device authentication over the internet. Consumer eSIM adoption is growing — the GSMA most recently estimated eSIM smartphone connections to reach 2.4 million by 2025.

Alongside consumer applications, there was a lot of discussion around eSIM applications for Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. While the technology is still in its early stages of deployment for industrial IoT and connected car applications, the potential it holds is huge.

eSIMs eliminate many of the challenges for IoT deployments, by reducing the complexity. eSIMs can be installed on any connected device remotely, meaning that any device can be onboarded onto any network in a fraction of the time it would take to install traditional SIM cards. Subscriptions can be managed remotely, removing the need for technicians to physically go to devices to update technology, simplifying logistics and reducing maintenance costs.

Combined power

While 5G and eSIMs are separate, together they hold great value for enterprise IoT applications. Building a 5G architecture for an enterprise can either be done through a private network or through network slicing — depending on the specific application.

5G private networks are suited to enterprises that need their own network to be entirely controlled internally for security. They’re typically an upgrade of a traditional Wi-Fi network, enabling secure connectivity, ultralow latency and machine to machine (M2M) communication. 

Alternatively, network slicing can also be used to establish a 5G architecture for a broader use case. Specifically introduced for 5G, network slicing involves splitting the network into multiple subnetworks, or ‘slices’, which are used to deliver specific 5G features — for example, low latency, low data rate or high throughput. Network slicing is managed by the network operator, who provides the desired service for the enterprise. The benefit of network slicing over a private network is that the 5G slice is available through the public network, so the benefits can be accessed from any connected device, regardless of location.

Mobilise offers a modular suite end-to-end support services that support operators in launching their own 5G capabilities, as well as providing expert consultancy on 5G strategy, to enable MNOs and MVNOs alike to keep up with the pace of innovation. Services include support building new infrastructure, like RAN, OSS and BSS, as well as solutions on how best to maximise the benefits of data, analytics and AI.

Combining 5G connectivity — be it through a private network or network slicing — with IoT eSIMs creates a streamlined, digital-first connectivity system for businesses looking to accelerate digital transformation. While such projects aren’t widespread at the moment, from the conversations, announcements and displays at MWC 2022, it’s clear that a 5G eSIM-enabled IoT infrastructure has the potential to transform enterprise connectivity. The technological capability is there, but the telecoms industry must unite their expertise to make it a reality.  

Mobilise is a telecoms consultancy and digital-first service provider, specialising in supporting operators to digitalise their business models through the HERO platform. To discover more about launching eSIM and 5G capabilities, get in touch with the team here.

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