Highlights of the MWC 5G Hype Wave

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By: R. Scott Raynovich

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2019 -- The 5G marketing hype hit the global industry with full fury here as 100,000+ attendees of the the world's largest mobile show listened to stories about a range of new business that will be spawned by 5G services ranging from connected robots, telemedicine, and all manners of mixed and virtual realities.

But what's real? And how much money will it generate? Some of the hype is unwieldy. Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm said that $600 billion in additional services revenue is on the table for service providers as a result of 5G, a number that had some analysts chuckling in the hallways.

The GSMA believes that 5G connections will reach 1.4 billion by 2025 – and that the number of global Internet of Things (IoT) connections will triple to 25 billion by 2025, while global IoT revenue will quadruple to $1.1 trillion

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said opportunities for the infrastructure provider will include connecting new end-to-end networks for operators expanding enterprise markets, and building new software. 

IoT's Critical Evolution

What's clear in the infrastructure space is that IoT is seen as critical to the business viability of 5G because of by brining new technology capabilities to the table such as low-latency bandwidth and network slicing for enterprise applications. Another area of focus is building secure, virtualized overlays using mobile networks, which was part of VMware's announcement with AT&T

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said 5G is a catalyst for VMware's expansion into the service provider space. “We have about 60 service providers that use VMware technology to build their telco cloud,” he said. Gelsinger cited Vodafone as “the best example” but also named clients such as NTT, Singtel, and AT&T also use VMware technology.

SD-WAN, security, edge compute, and IoT technology will all be driven by 5G, Gelsinger said. 

But there's also the chance that operators screw it up -- taking directly from the words of Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone. He pointed out that for service providers, “reputation with consumers is just ahead of the tobacco companies." Their ability to roll out new services will have to be proven. 

Infrastructure Boom Ahead?

One theme that appears to be developing is that 5G is providing a bump of excitement and money for mobile infrastructure providers. 

Some more Interesting announcements at the show:

BT has publicly stated that it plans to deploy 5G in 16 cities in 2019, coupled with forecasted residential broadband growth to remain at roughly 40 percent annually, means that significant new capacity is required in all areas of the network, and particularly on the main core links carrying this traffic.

Of course, we're only just scratching the surface of the hype. And there's plenty more to come. Tomorrow we'll take a look at trends such as edge compute and network virtualization that will be needed to deliver on the 5G promises.