MWC19 Theme Report: Connectivity


It’s simplistic to say networks supporting LTE-A, NB-IoT and 5G are becoming more complex. As new types of devices with different needs from classic smartphone and computer usage come onto networks in their millions, then it changes the way we have to think of the whole network architecture. We cannot think about the network’s elements and interactions in isolation. Instead, the capabilities of the network as a whole need to be thought through, and only then how each element (compute node, cell, radio technology, network slice, etc) plays its part in relation to the others.

Especially for 5G at high frequencies, the next wave of deployment will require an expanded community of network infrastructure, both in public and private ownership, to usher in truly ubiquitous broadband applications and services to anyone, anywhere, in real-time. That opens up new forms of business and operational relationships with infrastructure owners and stakeholders large and small.

The complexity will require more virtualisation behind the scenes; automation and AI-driven intelligence, and new forms of network architecture such as those based on edge computing and a less centralised operating model. As a result, the enablement of 5G networking is expected to be a game changer on many levels. Many telecoms giants are moving at a ferocious pace to expedite some forms of 5G as a ‘basic’ proposition which can be enriched later by capabilities such as network slicing. We are not yet seeing the true revolution that a full 5G network might bring, and for some that stability will be welcome while the business and regulatory implications become clearer.

What to expect from 5G
– 5G will facilitate massive growth in the Internet of Things, supporting many multiples of connections compared to LTE. Data flow will massively increase, as will the need for data processing and storage. Edge computing will play a role in reducing end-to-end traffic burdens on the network.
– 5G rollout has already commenced in the USA, China, a number of Middle Eastern countries and will become more common in 2019 and 2020
– 5G may well be the biggest new trend in 2019/2020, with ~1 billion people worldwide likely to be 5G-enabled within five years from now
– But the services different operators describe as ‘5G’ will vary massively

Industry Impact

4G and LTE networks will continue to improve but they will eventually reach the limit of what they are capable of delivering in terms of data throughput. However, for operators focusing on 5G as a ‘faster broadband’ proposition it begs the questions of just how fast will 5G really be, and is it worth investing in?

According to the latest specifications, 5G will have a maximum throughput of 10Gbps on the downlink side. However, 5G is designed not only to enable faster broadband, but also to support massive quantities of low-throughput data from ‘Massive IoT’ and also critical communications; ultimately, as with current networks, the stresses placed on 5G by the different services will determine speeds in real life. There have been arguments put forward that 5G will also enable more reliable and/or ubiquitous connectivity, but this would be a function of how the networks are deployed rather than of the technology itself.

The Connectivity Theme at MWC Barcelona

5G is designed to create speeds, flexibility and the agility to create the services and performance needed for use cases with far higher reliability requirements than are possible today.
The Connectivity theme at MWC19 aims to highlight the requirements for the entire solution stack required to take us into the 5G era, from implementation, to use cases, business models, spectrum and regulation, to the business and cultural challenges of working with new and diverse markets/industries.

What’s Keeping Operator CTOs up at Night?
Monday, 25 February – 11.00 – 12.10
By any measure, CTOs of companies in the telecommunication industry have a big job. Just the emergence of 5G have operators shifting towards more software driven architecture and becoming cloudified requires their utmost attention. This ever evolving role oversees about half of industry employees and will invest trillions in capital expenditures over the next five years. A CEO wants and needs a partner who can execute their vision, help set strategic direction and offer insight based on a deep understanding of technology’s evolution. With the weight of expectations within the role and the deployment of 5G just around the corner, what is keeping a CTO awake at night?

The Edge Computing Opportunity: Intelligent and Distributed
Monday, 25 February – 16.00 – 16.45
With the huge market potential and opportunity presented by 5G, carriers are undergoing a massive network infrastructure transformation to ensure delivery/expectations are met. Architecting greater computing power at the edge of a network will become a key enabler for low-latency applications. Whilst centralised cloud will still be a vital component, the edge is going to grow incrementally and create a lot of value for customers. This session will provide insights into emerging edge computing models and concepts, and highlight the immense opportunity this technology will bring.

Debate: 5G deployments in high-frequency bands are uneconomic
Tuesday, 26 February – 13.00 – 14.00
One of the great expectations for 5G is the blistering speed that it will bring. Which leads to a problem; delivering the promised performance of 5G through high-band spectrum would require a fundamentally different architecture with much denser networks. Meanwhile a low-to mid-band 5G network, especially in bands below two gigahertz, would look and cost much the same as current LTE networks. Deployment costs would be similar for cell sites of comparable density. Will operators need to rethink their approach to deploying 5G in high frequency bands and carefully review their business case?

5G Devices: When Will they be Ready?
Tuesday, 26 February – 14.15 – 15.15
Although most of us will be using 4G devices for the foreseeable future, some carriers have plans to deploy mobile 5G networks by early 2019, with some early efforts even planned for later 2018. Upon arrival, what should we expect? What impact will 5G have on battery life, usage and new services? Is the much hyped folding screen set to become mainstream? Is VR and AR a major 5G proposition?

“Connectivity” Event Theme Networking Reception
Tuesday, 26 February – 16.30 – 18.30


Sponsored by:

AI, Machine Learning and Your Access Network(s)
Thursday, 28 February – 11.15 – 12.15
Artificial Intelligence is set to revolutionise how operators compete and grow. One operational challenge faced by many is dealing with the mass of user, device, application and network service data travelling inside the enterprise access infrastructure. By solving structured problems, AI is a new way to drive efficiency, maximize resource utilisation and improve customer experience. So how can all this magic be usefully applied, in a practical way, to help drive down costs, drive up productivity and deliver better user experience on the network?

What is the Role of the Telco in the IoT value chain?
Thursday, 28 February – 12.30 – 13.30
As IoT gains momentum, enterprises managing millions of devices need highly automated solutions to control their IoT deployments. Mobile operators have the opportunity to facilitate this with turnkey automated platforms that include reliable network coverage, device management and security. Responding to the changing connectivity demands of an IoT world, how can operators prepare to meet enterprise needs in the global connected world?