5G at MWC LA – How excited should we be?

Hallelujah 5G is finally coming!! Do you get excited or just shrug your shoulders?

Reading various whitepapers and articles, opinions range from ‘robots are going to take all of our jobs’ and ‘our lives are going to change forever’ to ‘our lives aren’t going to change’ and ‘why can’t I just get a quality 4G network first.’

The point is, the over-hyped expectations of previous generations has meant there is an element of restrained realism to 5G, without kerbing the excitement of those with a sunnier disposition.

Getting the balance right is key when discussing 5G, and at MWC LA, we will be compartmentalising 5G into three daily themes – marketing, networks and strategy – focusing on topics and questions that will be pivotal in its future success but still need answering.

Firstly marketing

Being the first to bring a new technology to market has always been a priority for mobile operators. But 5G marks a fork in the road for the mobile industry, to work with other sectors and provide a platform for their digital transformation. Be it automotive, finance, government or any enterprise, a fast roll out doesn’t necessarily equate to the best quality of service – complex requirements for services such as health highlight that it’s not about speed, it’s about getting it right every time. With that in mind, is there more value in carriers focusing on being ‘best to market’ rather than first? Case in point – what technology has Apple really been first to market with?

Here in Europe, Germany has set the ambitious target of 99% superfast 5G coverage by 2021, but with 32% of the country covered by forest, what exactly will 5G deliver for rural areas that they can’t get already? As an even bigger market, the US still relies on 2G for those living in rural areas, so what is the cost, power requirements and long-term environmental impact of building out new 5G infrastructure? With South Korea, USA, China and Japan all fighting to be the world’s first 5G market, is it time for change in mind-set?

Networks

Network slicing, edge compute, Massive MIMO, private networks, software-defined platforms – carrier networks constantly evolve to deliver greater efficiency and newer capabilities. As 5G promises to download and upload at speeds quicker than I can blink, are we moving too fast for our networks and industry standards? In reality, are we preparing for LTE-Advanced in a wig? And without a 5G only-specific use case, is that necessarily a bad thing?

What impact will politics have in the global 5G race? With one of the world’s leading network infrastructure providers embroiled in a bitter war of words with the US government, who are the real winners and losers going to be? Let’s not forget that up to 25% of rural US wireless carriers already use Huawei equipment.

Finally – strategy

Technology is developing quickly, making the mobile industry think differently. With new ecosystems opening up behind the 5G door – from autonomous vehicles, industrial and vehicular automation and gaming – carriers need to adapt to the demands of a new type of customer, many of them huge conglomerates.

Will this mean big investment and less return in the short term?  ROI from 3G and 4G focused on carriers’ core customer base but as we know, that customer base is evolving. Huge investment is again needed for 5G where growth opportunities are numerous but fragmented. Where is the best ROI going forward and realistically, with each carrier answering to large shareholders – can carriers change their business models, even if they wanted to?  (See Elon Musk vs Telsa board)

Whatever your thoughts, MWC LA will be finding answers to these questions and so much more. Make sure you’re part of the debate starting on October 22nd.

5G at MWC Los Angeles

Tuesday

1:00 – 2:00pm
Marketing 5G: First or best to market?
First mover advantage has always been a priority for any new generation of technology, but is this about to change? With 5G consumer benefits some way off, the industry is naturally focusing on industrial and enterprise use cases. Technology needs to be interoperable with existing services, so should carriers now focus more on being best to market, prioritising quality of service? What are the business realties of working with enterprise and why should they care about 5G? This session will debate whether we need a new mind-set for marketing 5G. Who wants to be first?

2:15 – 3:15pm
Rural Connectivity: Is the Business Model There?
Rural 5G can read as an oxymoron, especially when under 70% of North America currently has 4G coverage and 2G still in use. Rural connectivity remains a growing concern as networks continue to struggle, despite three generations of mobile promising ubiquitous network coverage. Is current rural infrastructure fit for purpose? Is it time to change the competitive environment? Can Telco’s live without a tower? What does the carrier business model look like for both tier one and tier two players? Whilst 5G continues to grab the headlines, this session will examine key attributes of 4G and existing legacy infrastructure in order to understand the business realities for rural communities and ask: what can 5G really deliver that’s different?

3:45 – 5:00pm
5G: Power, Planet, Profit
As the world of technology champions the very latest in 5G innovation, rising environmental concerns has seen sustainability become a key objective of the 5G system. With demands for carriers to not only extend coverage, but also reduce cost and minimise the environment impact of mobile networks, can business models afford not to be sustainability-centric? What is the environmental impact of 5G and how can sustainability be profitable in both the short and long term?

Wednesday

1:00 – 2:00pm
5G Networks: Hard Talk
5G is leading an evolution of the US telecom ecosystem and competitive landscape. The adoption of Internet of Things and artificial intelligence is creating new areas for innovation, growth and network efficiency. With a rise in new technology and horizontal platforms, this Hard Talk keynote session will delve deep into the mind-set of our network leaders. What do carriers see as the end goal with 5G? What can 5G deliver that LTE-Advanced cannot? Should networks become software centric and is politics in danger of hindering 5G progress?

2:15 – 3:15pm
Network Slicing: Let’s Keep it Simple
Whilst the premise of network slicing is straightforward the nuts-and-bolts is anything but. In supporting 5G applications, carriers need to deliver a customised 5G service with all the advantages of network slicing, small cells and coverage. With such complexities, is it possible to keep it simple? As massive IoT, virtual reality and augmented reality puts pressure on the network, what impact will network slicing have on infrastructure requirements? Will there be even more need for infrastructure in the future, and in the quest for tailored and intelligent connectivity, could the rise in private networks be a disrupter or a new opportunity for carriers?

3:45 – 5:00pm
5G On The Edge
The first wave of 5G networks and services is underway with next-generation cellular promising huge latency benefits for autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other high-bandwidth experiences. But clarity is needed for the long term. Where should the edge be in order to deliver the best service and security for the consumers? Who controls the edge and can it deliver both latency and functionality without losing service agility? As the network’s distance and complexity increases, collaboration between the wireless network and edge is essential to paving a graceful pathway to 5G. This session debates what the key priorities should be in the race to the edge.

Thursday 24th

11:00 – 12:00pm
Future Proofing your 5G Strategy
5G is making the mobile industry think differently. Whilst enhanced mobile broadband will be the core customer proposition in early 5G deployments, investment and software integration in both the radio access and network core is seeing new ecosystems emerge within autonomous vehicles, industrial and vehicular automation, remote medical surgery, and advanced augmented & virtual reality. Mobile technology is developing quickly, so what is the industries long-term strategy? Should carriers become more software-centric? Where is investment getting the best ROI and as scary as it sounds, should we already be planning for 6G?

12:15 – 1:15pm
Is your Future Safe with 5G?
With early roll out of 5G beginning this year, global security concerns are being extensively debated in the media. The need for a fully secure network infrastructure has never been greater, not only for future services, but also for legacy features that exist in earlier generations that could also be present in 5G. The use of artificial intelligence will be key in predicting and pre-validating 5G network connections, but is a new secure by design approach required? Should the enforcement of network security become mandatory? What role will 5G have in IoT security? And should carriers focus on developing Security as a Service? This session will examine future threats and the opportunities within.

2:00 – 3:00pm
Is this the End of Mobile as we Know it?
The smartphone is arguably the most important tool in a person’s daily life, but as 4G gives way to 5G, is the mobile device going to change beyond recognition?
Growth in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, mobile virtual reality, ultra-high quality video and internet of things is pushing boundaries of what is possible. Could this be the end of mobile as we know it?