2018 was the year sh*t got real for MWC

The imminence of 5G seems to have concentrated the minds of many Mobile World Congress attendees and about time too.

We observed at the start of the week that conversations seem to have taken a more focused, practical turn and our subsequent experiences served to reinforce that impression. Of everyone is still desperate to prove their 5G credentials and tell anyone who will listen how on top the whole situation they are, but this year they often did so by talking up specific products and initiatives rather than just giving good PowerPoint.

The big kit vendors all seemed to have put extra effort into their stands. Ericsson’s displays and demos were more lavish and eye-catching than previous years and Nokia finally joined them and Huawei in taking over half of a hall and its stand was a major upgrade. But perhaps the most symbolic piece of MWC virtue-signalling was from Qualcomm (pictured), which went all in on 5G at its massive stand, to the apparent exclusion of absolutely everything else.

Perhaps this was why there seemed to be so little actual news at the show. Getting a bit better at the stuff that will eventually enable you to exploit the opportunities presented by 5G and IoT doesn’t exactly lend itself to punchy headlines. It was almost like people had decided they were too focused on actually doing stuff to bother with trivia such as news. Not a thought spared for sensation-starved hacks.

It doesn’t help that the smartphone sector is so utterly devoid of meaningful innovation these days. Mainstream media tends to obsess about gadgets at a show that is far more focused on networks and other dry B2B fare. Samsung came back to the show this year but, by all accounts, the Galaxy S9 was little more than a couple of component upgrades over the previous one.

As we discussed on our special podcast recorded at the show, for hard news this is probably one year early, with the first 5G smartphones expected to be unveiled at MWC 2019. So our initial take on this year’s MWC is that it represented the bridge between the wishful thinking of the past and the actual substance of the future.

  • Private Networks in a 5G World

  • 5G Networking Digital Symposium

  • LIVE: Getting the Best out of 5G

  • 5G Ecosystem Digital Symposium

  • 2020 Vision Executive Summit

  • Industrial IoT World

  • TechXLR8

  • BIG 5G Event

  • IoT World Europe Summit

  • 5G World

  • 5G Latin America

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