Highlights from Mobile World Congress 2022
by Cyrille Joffre
Mobile World Congress is one of the world’s biggest annual trade shows for the telecommunications industry, so, naturally, I attended on behalf of Sure. The Barcelona-based event saw over 60,000 attendees and featured over 1,900 exhibitions from major names in the telecoms industry, from Samsung to Microsoft. Here are some of my key takeaways from the event regarding where the industry is heading over the next few years.
Net zero carbon emissions was a key theme across all exhibitors
Unsurprisingly, reducing emissions and preserving energy to combat the ever-growing threat of climate change was a key theme across nearly every exhibitor. The main takeaway was that the private sector’s level of commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions is now higher than it is in the public sector. 26% of privately owned companies have committed to the benchmark, versus only 13% of national governments.
I was pleased to see that the telecoms sector is leading the charge, with a third of operators publicly announcing timelines: Telia has pledged to be net zero by 2030 and Vodafone by 2040, for example. At Sure, we are beginning our own journey with ESI Monitor .
However, compared to the automotive industry’s roll out of electric cars, businesses within the telecoms sector will have to look to alternate technologies if they want to achieve a real reduction in energy usage. Though data traffic has soared worldwide in the past ten years, power consumption has also grown by 64%. If providers are serious about achieving a net zero emissions benchmark, significant changes must be implemented.
Unsurprisingly then, another consistent theme throughout MWC was the importance of renewable energy and supply chain resourcing, both of which can be leveraged to mitigate environmental impact.
Global inclusion in tech and telecoms still has a long way to go
Talks from MWC exhibitors revealed that 4 billion of the world’s population (i.e. well over half!) are still underserved by the technology in our sector. As well as people in developing countries who may lack the access to the same level of technology that we in the West enjoy, intersectional groups such as the elderly and the disabled community were highlighted as underserved by the telecoms industry.
The exhibitors defined five major dimensions to address in this field: knowledge, skills, affordability, relevance, and safety and security. However, I was impressed to hear that the UK Foreign & Commonwealth development office has already raised £500m and helped 50 start-ups to promote growth and development of bolder technologies in these sectors.
Other highlights included SK Telecom’s award-winning artificial intelligence service designed to help visually impaired people and a robot canine from Xiaomi, which will be used to aid older people and people with disabilities.
5G continues to proliferate with exciting new innovations
5G continues to expand in American and Asian markets. South Korea is by far the world leader in this regard, as 90% of its population is covered by 5G, and it even has plans to commercialise 6G services as soon as 2028.
After South Korea, China is the biggest implementor of 5G networks, with 60% coverage, followed by the US with 45%. Europe only has 10% of the continent covered, though the UK can count itself among them, with all four of its major networks offering the service in selected areas. Closer to home, Guernsey’s broadband network, Guernsey Fibre, represents an equally powerful roll out.
Other new technologies using this exciting, futuristic network on show included a 5G robotic bartender and Spectronite’s powerful new 5G modem, as well as a celebration of Pokémon Go’s sixth anniversary: an immensely popular AR software which has consistently demonstrated the use of the technology for on-the-go gaming.
Also relevant to 5G were the discussions around Open RAN, the concept for a more open radio access network architecture. Open RAN represents a profound change in the way that 5G technology is optimised, and it remains a key consideration for the telecoms industry as it adopts 5G into its product offerings.
Keep an eye out for part two of my breakdown of the event, where I discuss the impressive devices on display and analyse how Meta intends to use the Metaverse to revolutionise business dealings.
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