Mobile World Congress Preview: 5G Where Art Thou?

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By: R. Scott Raynovich

We are gearing up for mondo Mobile World Congress (MWC) communications trade show in Barcelona, which starts at the end of the month. It leads us to ask: What has all the hype given us?

As Mary Jander points out in a recent post, most businesses are still searching for the 5G pot of gold. Whether it's an enterprise investing in 5G to build a smart manufacturing service or a supplier trying to sell more gear, it simply hasn't showed a big payoff yet. The biggest disappointment comes from the focused wireless vendors such as Nokia and Ericsson, which can't seem to get their share prices out of the basement. For example, an investment in Ericsson just after the 2017 MWC event -- which kicked off 5G "buzz" five years ago -- would have resulted in a loss on your investment of 20% -- over a period of five years in which the major market indices doubled.

To make things worse, the research from our Cloud Tracker Pro research service indicates that the world's largest telecommunications companies have already signaled that capital spending (capex) will soon start declining (subscription required). In summary: the hype has peaked, and the dollars have too.

On a more optimistic front, our detailed research from Cloud Tracker Pro (subscription required) shows there are now more than 100 5G services worldwide, with a heavy focus on broadband, manufacturing and healthcare. Robust uses cases are emerging in ares such as smart manufacturing, mining, and smart cities. From our data, below you can see the top industries and use cases targeted.

We'll be diving deeper into all the expected announcements, data, and news before the show starts, but for now, we hope to see more real-world use cases and less hype at MWC, which of course won't happen.

Just please don't start talking about 6G.