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March 8th, 2019

MWC 2019: Change is in the air… Really this time

Since 2006, I’ve made the annual pilgrimage to Barcelona for the leading conference on all things mobile and telecom. Yet despite the predictable overindulgence of tapas and rioja, it’s clear things have changed, and MWC Barcelona 2019 (recently renamed from Mobile World Congress) has evolved. Forbes opines that “MWC is no longer a show just for the telco space. Not even close. It is one of the world’s greatest showcases of enterprise technology and emerging trends.” The event’s evolution, from a telecom focus to one that leverages telecom for enterprise success, is a familiar experience for Neustar.

Perhaps like no other, mobile technologies have transformed how the world communicates, conducts business, learns, banks, gets entertained, and even how ordinary people go about their daily lives. And the latest generation of this revolution, 5G, was on full display. 5G reflects Barcelona’s recent Olympian history to be faster, higher, stronger. The promises are transformative: faster speeds, lower latency, and massive network densification will support the data explosion arising from sensors and intelligent devices, to power a new generation of multimedia remote services. Expert surgeons remotely guiding operations? Check! Cars that talk to bikes to avoid accidents? Check! Flying drone taxis? Check!

Beyond 5G, the conference theme of Intelligent Connectivity refers to how the convergence of physical connections (e.g., 5G, IOT) with digital technologies (e.g., AI, big data) will enable this future vision, and will add $2.2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years.

But what exactly does all this mean? Is this 5G vision real? Or is this another build-it-and-they-will-come techno-indulgence, like Segways, Google Glass, or 3D HDTVs?

The answer, like all predictions, has many dimensions, along with vocal groups of both proponents and detractors. Cisco CEO, Chuck Robbins, said, “This is one technology that feels like the hype is going to be reflected in the reality.” On the other hand, while carriers look forward to possible new revenues, they also face massive investment requirements for 5G mobile and fixed broadband, while faced with pricing pressures for existing services and infrastructure. Singtel Mobile’s group CEO, Cua Sock Koong, shared that, “Mobile data traffic will be four times as high in 2025 than it is today, but revenue growth is stagnating.” China Telecom has indicated that 5G costs three times more than previous network rollouts.

Groupon CEO Rich Williams provided a decidedly consumer-oriented perspective in his MWC Keynote. While not dismissive of 5G, he talked about the ubiquity of 5G in the exhibit halls, but “no one can explain to me what it means”. Rather, he grouped 5G, AI assistants, and other technologies, as amazing enablers and accelerators to optimize the “single most disruptive force… the focus on the customer.”

All these divergent narratives simultaneously resonated with the Neustar team. Long before MWC Barcelona, Neustar has embraced the promise and challenges of Intelligent Connectivity. We are optimistic in the promise of 5G, pragmatic in helping service provider partners improve operational efficiencies as they undergo yet another network transformation, and excited in helping businesses improve the user engagement.

As a trusted partner to service providers, Neustar connects networks, systems and customers to ensure that services are delivered efficiently and cost effectively, helping deliver a positive return on their investment. While the show’s focus on the uber-cool 5G use cases are a great step in understanding the utility and value of 5G, the TM Forum reminds us of the task at hand: up to 72% of 5G revenue growth is dependent on transformation of operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS). There’s a lot to do before we reap the monetization promise of 5G.

For our enterprise customers, we intelligently connect businesses and customers, applying data and analytics to optimize the customer experience; protecting each side by providing an actionable understanding of who or what is on the other end of every interaction and transaction.

Bring on the revolution!

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