With TMForumLive at our doorsteps on June 1, I am taking this opportunity to reflect on a few takeaways from MWC2015 earlier this year. I came away from Barcelona with the following thoughts and it will be interesting to see and hear of the latest developments in the areas below:
As the current generation of mobile network technology is still being aggressively rolled out, one of the most discussed topics at MWC2015 was 5G, which is the next protocol in broadband wireless communications. While there were no technical standards defined for 5G, the general agreement is that 5G capabilities will be required to accommodate the explosion of communication between devices that are expected to be internet-enabled over the next few years. Once deployed, 5G is expected to bring about the full realization of the potential of the "Internet of Things" (IoT), such as connected smart cities, all manner of wearable health and wellness applications, driverless cars, etc.
When will we get to see the first 5G networks is still very much unclear, however, Samsung hopes to launch a temporary trial 5G network in time for 2018's Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. Not to be outdone, Huawei is racing to implement their version of 5G for the 2018 Soccer World Cup in Moscow.
At this year’s TMForumLive, I will be looking for updates on the progress made with respect to the standardization of 5G, and I hope to see greater co-operation between equipment vendors.
Internet of Things
Cisco predicts a $19 trillion global opportunity, and it is easy to see why global investment capital is rushing towards this space. In Barcelona, the volume and prominence of IoT devices beyond smart phones was staggering. The devices ranged from a proliferation of wearables to smart cars, and smart home monitoring devices.
Beyond selling devices, however, companies still have not figured out how to monetize services from those devices. As advertising is always a logical choice, Nokia’s research into predictive advertising and services based on data collected from IoT devices is an exciting new proposition. This will allow for highly targeted ads that go beyond the users’ profile by analyzing data real-time from an individual’s connected device, and ads will be served by other connected devices, also real-time: ‘Jack, you’ve burned 900 calories this morning. Time for a dozen donuts for half price right here, just look to your left”.
It will be exciting to see at TMForumLive if the first IoT “killer application” that is monetizable clearly emerges to drive necessary acceleration of industry-wide investment.
Software on the Network: SDN and NFV
Software-defined networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are new ideas around the orchestration and management of networks and services. It is evident that big money is being poured into SDN and NFV, as these technologies threaten to revolutionize communications networks over the next 20 years. The key benefits center around network functions being deployed on general purpose standardized hardware to reduce capital and operational expenditures, combined with highly flexible and configurable software that accelerates service and product introduction timeframes.
It is not clear yet that standards exist to make these concepts a reality on a large scale, but it is it clear that innovations will come from a combination of large established players with deep pockets and new innovative well-funded new entrants.
I expect SDN and NFV innovations to be an expanding “mainstay” both at TMForumLive moving forward.