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MWC19: What to Expect

20 Feb 2019 | Ovum

Major themes to follow and market trends to watch

This is Ovum’s 2019 guide to the Mobile World Congress (MWC19). As a bellwether for the industry, MWC reflects both the aspirations and the realities of a mobile communications sector in a state of flux.

This year has started with mixed signals. Apple has stated that the China market is not delivering, and Samsung and LG were down on expectations in the last quarter of 2018. Chipset vendors are seeing demand from hyperscale cloud providers decline, and the revenue upside from most 5G services is still some way off. Network vendors are, however, beginning to see contracts for 5G infrastructure ramp up, but one of these – Huawei – is facing an uncertain year given a charged political environment.

What will MWC19 reveal about the industry’s prospects? The answer is that suppliers of all types are preoccupied by the need to show evidence that investment will generate new revenues. This is why we think ever more sophisticated use cases will be on show, with demonstrations attempting to make more explicit links between the capabilities that 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT) promise and the new money they may (or may not) deliver. Vendors will start to “walk the talk,” with AI case studies for intelligent network management, customer experience, and consumer AI applications.

In the consumer space, Ovum predicts that the appetite for video over mobile devices will increase substantially: we believe mobile cellular video data volumes will grow more than 50% annually worldwide, a trend Ovum expects to persist well into the 2020s. So at MWC19, expect demos based on 5G’s promise of an immersive experience, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications. We also expect robust discussions on the 5G FWA business model.

MWC19 will feature the business-to-business opportunity front and center. While vendors and service providers will continue to showcase and explain the efficiency benefits of 5G, many will present more thorough, robust business cases in the enterprise space. This means there will be discussion delving into what sort of applications ultra-low-latency broadband, network slicing, and edge computing can enable. Look for AI-reliant demonstrations of specific industry use cases in sectors such as next-generation factories and healthcare.

In short, MWC19 should provide further evidence that the industry is focusing more on the positive revenue impact that emerging new mobile technologies offer than on technology for its own sake. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Whether or not you can make it to Barcelona yourself, keep an eye out for Ovum’s comprehensive coverage of MWC19 from our analysts in attendance.

To read the full report from Ovum, click here.

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