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A Super Connected Mobile World

Chris Althaus
CEO, AMTA

The diversity of presentations at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) has been overwhelming and insightful. The event clearly highlights that a super-connected world is driven by the interconnectedness of innovation, mobile and transformative technologies.

It is the largest international gathering for the mobile industry and provides an exceptional forum for networking, discussion and knowledge transfer. It is also the scene for numerous product and partnership launches.

I attended MWC 2017 connecting with individuals and organisations on key themes. It was wonderful to see several AMTA members at MWC reporting on their initiatives or extracting insights that can be factored into the local market.

The implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven by 5G are powerful and cross-sectoral. From the micro, in terms of how wearables can improve human health, through to the macro, including Smart Cities, mobile-intelligent vehicles and hyper-connected homes, the Congress has been showcasing visionary ideas, practical solutions and a host of new devices for those focused on the goodness of gadgets.

The message is clear, and the potential outcomes are fundamentally transformative. The seven themes for MWC 2017 cover key areas of activity and reinforce the rapidly moving nature of the industry:

1. Content and Media
Content is king, they say. For many service providers across the value chain how content is delivered, who by, and who profits from it will be critical business issues in the years to come. Meanwhile, faster and more pervasive connectivity and new device formats open up new forms of entertainment and interaction, from VR headsets to Pokemon Go.

2. Consumer IoT
In the changing digital world how will users interact with their digital environment? What will they pay for? How are they changing? Meanwhile, how can brands and services create
richer services and offers tailored to the user and context?

3. The Fourth Industrial Revolution
While enterprises of all kinds have used telecoms and digital services for years, the scale and complexity of impact across all industries and society is profound and digital service providers play a central role in this increasingly diverse ecosystem. This will be addressed from
two angles; one looking more at the application of technology (including big data and Artificial Intelligence in particular) and one looking at implementation and the evolution of business models, strategies and competitive marketplaces as digitisation increases

4. Government and Public Policy
Mobile technology is evolving rapidly, leading to the emergence of new digital services and applications that are transforming the way people live, work, play and communicate. Mobile is an important driver of economic development and wealth creation, but what policies are needed to promote innovation, competition, privacy and security for consumers in the digital age? How can government and the mobile industry can work collaboratively to drive key enablers – such as access to financial services, digital identity, locally relevant content, digital literacy – to expand digital inclusion for all?

5. Networks
The end goal of most network technology developments is to make using connectivity as ubiquitous, simple and essential as breathing air. That masks a massive and increasing complexity. The astonishing thing is that, as an industry, we are starting to get there, although many hurdles – expected and unexpected – remain

6. Platforms
This theme brings together topics on some of the fundamental enabling technologies that are going to determine the nature of the future digital world: artificial intelligence, robotics, sensors, natural language interfaces, hardware evolution, quantum computing, data and energy storage, cloud, security, privacy, identity and more.

7. Sustainable Development
Mobile has the opportunity – and arguably the obligation – to play a massive part in accomplishing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. From an enterprise perspective, what opportunities exist to build sustainable businesses in line with the Sustainable Development Goals?

The breadth of these themes cuts across technical aspects, business models and social dimensions, not excluding the policy imperatives required to ensure governments keep timely progress to effectively support the roll out of 5G and a mobile-enabled society.

Insights from Australian CEOs

Importantly, it is always instructive to hear how CEOs and other key decision-makers from local carriers are seeing MWC 2017, its content and what it will mean for the Australian market. Few other events would provide such concentrated opportunities to keep abreast of industry directions world-wide. CommsDay editorial director, Petroc Wilson is also in Barcelona and shares some views and observations from both Telstra and Optus CEOs on what can be expected within the context of 5G and current trajectories.

“Optus CEO Allen Lew has taken a keen interest in network AI and next-level 4G technologies at this year’s MWC event, even as Optus itself has announced a successful 128x128 multiple-input, multiple-output trial with Huawei. And for Optus’ 5G plans, Lew is eyeing some very specific use cases – including, in the first instance, fixed- wireless last-mile access to replace FTTN, FTTP and similar solutions” says Petroc Wilson.

“Telstra CEO Andy Penn says he’s seen 5G start to coalesce from hype to reality at this year’s MWC. And while he’s expecting much fiercer competition in Australia’s 5G race than Telstra faced with its 2011 4G blitz – which gave the firm an LTE lead of months over its rivals – he says his company will nevertheless be at the forefront" notes Wilson.

“A central part of Penn’s narrative as CEO has been his overarching plan to evolve Telstra into a technology company. While MWC is primarily known as a telecoms event, he also held up this year’s event as further validation that Telstra’s legacy business and his ambitions for its future are far from mutually exclusive” said Wilson.

With MWC 2017 coming to a close, there will be more detailed updates directly from AMTA CEO, Chris Althaus, over the coming days as a way of sharing the rich content delivered in Barcelona.

For more information about MWC 2017 see the event website: https://www.mobileworldcongress.com/

Form more information about GSMA and its programs, look here: http://www.gsma.com/

3 March 2017