2018 Mobile World Congress Americas

5G – All the talk at MWCA

By: Marco Nielsen, Vice President, Managed Mobility Services for Stratix

The second inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) show drew approximately 22,000 attendees, 1,000 companies and 130 start-up ventures – all of whom wanted to show their latest mobile solutions and offerings. While there was a heavy presence of carrier-related partners, a few mainstream mobility exhibitors, such as Samsung, Sprint (Softbank), Verizon, Qualcomm, Nokia and Ericson.

To get a feel for who was there, refer to MWCA 2018 by the numbers.

As the race to nationwide 5G escalates, both AT&T and Verizon are in a neck-and-neck battle with both companies now offering limited availability in select cities.

  • One carrier stole all the MWCA attention when it made a bombshell announcement on the show’s first day – Verizon’s 5G is turned on. Beginning October 1, a handful of cities will be able to try Verizon’s new stationary broadband home offering for TV and Internet access. Initially, Verizon’s 5G will be available on non-standard equipment. However, the company is offering 5G customers a free upgrade to its official 5G equipment next year. Samsung hardware is being used for Verizon’s home solution.
  • Right before the show, AT&T announced the rollout of standard-based 5G equipment to five new cities, which are joining the existing seven cities already online in their race to provide mobile 5G access nationwide.
  • Sprint is partnering with LG to introduce a 5G phone handset in 2019.
  • Multiple U.S. carriers will have 5G mobile broadband service soon, and they will be using various access devices, such as the Cradlepoint wireless edge routers.
  • Across the tradeshow floor, the buzz was all about each carrier’s path and progress to 5G.

While most industry pundits continue to think that broad 5G availability and the mobile devices needed to utilize it will first be available in the 2020 timeframe, you can expect to see additional 5G-related announcements to dominate the news in the next 12 months.

Wearables

Because Apple launched its Fall Announcements which included the new Apple Watch Series 4 and new iPhone models September 12, the company passed on hosting an exhibition booth. However, the resulting buzz about the new Apple products made the company’s influence “felt” even without being at the event.

Samsung enjoyed good visibility and considerable traffic to its booth which featured Samsung Gear watches and VR headsets.

Simplifying in-flight Internet use

Sprint/Softbank showcased its Seamless Air Alliance membership with Airbus and Delta. This innovative collaboration intends to make in-flight Internet use simple – an important advance as the demand for in-the-air connectivity escalates.

A new wrinkle in device buyback

Buy Back Booth created an automated phone recycling kiosk that be placed in any retail location. The kiosk performs a real-time assessment of the phone’s external condition of the phone and creates an on-the-spot quote. An app can guide the consumer through a self-eval and accept the device into the kiosk. Buy Back Booth shares revenue with the store owners and retailers who choose to offer the kiosks in their locations.

Orion Labs

Orion is another interesting solution created by ex-Meraki and ex-Blackberry mobileers. The resulting Push-To-Talk solution is platform- and hardware-agnostic with an app that runs on any Android or iOS device. The solution also features a bridge for integration with Motorola’s legacy radio platform. In addition, the company offers carrier-based, stand-alone Push-To-Talk hardware and smaller Bluetooth-enabled wearable devices. Voice integration with IFTTT provides an AI-like experience for store associates, field service, public safety and other uses.

IoT

Although still ambiguous, the Internet-of-Things technology wave continues to demand attention with KORE Wireless and Arrow offering strong solutions and support.

Mobilitie

Mobilities’, a company that supports wireless infrastructures in stadiums, high rise buildings and hospitality venues, easily won the “Coolest Booth” competition. Their exhibit, which featured realistically detailed stadium models, included a full-service bar.

NimbeLink

Bring a live bee hive onto the exhibition show floor and you guarantee your own “buzz.” NimbeLink provides large scale asset tracking solutions that monitor the location, motion, temperature, and humidity of inventory. One of their customers, The Bee Corp, use their technology for monitoring actual bee hives.

 

Conclusions

Even though 5G is enjoying lots of industry buzz right now, there are still several important components of the technology and its rollout to be determined. No matter which way 5G goes, you can count on Stratix to be ready for it – with device migration expertise and hands-on assistance to make sure your enterprise can take full advantage of mobile’s latest advance.