Mar 3rd 2017

MWC: That’s a wrap

It was a gloriously sunny morning on the final day of Mobile World Congress 2017. Whilst many will be glad to return home after a busy week at the Fira, I’m sure we’ll all miss the blue skies and buzzing atmosphere of Barcelona.

Everyone has their reasons for attending MWC; whether representing a company exhibiting at the show, reporting on the latest trends or – as with the Babel team – supporting clients and ensuring things run smoothly. Although show highlights will differ from person to person, there were a few moments at the event this year that could not have failed to impress or surprise the large majority. In no particular order, then, here is what we have learned and what we will remember the most from Mobile World Congress 2017:

All hail handsets!

Despite the abundance of futuristic technology, the traditional smartphone handset still took a prominent position at MWC.

Retro re-launches included the updated Nokia 3310, and BlackBerry KeyOne. New handsets in the budget range  included Motorola’s Moto 5G and 5G Plus. Yet with features including full HD display, a 13-megapixel front camera, and a 2.0GHz octa-core processor, these devices prove just how much you can get for your money today.

Drones go commercial

The recognisable hum of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could be heard in certain areas at MWC, as drones returned to the show. In addition to being fun to fly, drones also have great potential for commercial use. Chinese company DJI, for instance, used the show to launch its Matrice 200 series, with intended uses including the inspection of power lines, turbines and other infrastructure, as well as assisting emergency services with search-and-rescue operations.

The Drone Zone was new to the show this year, and a Drone Summit was held yesterday, illustrating the increasing importance of this sector to the wider mobile ecosystem.

Cities get smart

We’ve seen smartphones, smart watches and smart cars, and now urban environments are also getting the smart treatment. A number of companies had displays of smart city infrastructure on their stands at MWC, and espoused a shared vision of a more connected, environmentally friendly, and sustainable living environment.

Harman was showing its Quick Predict early detection and warning system, which can be used to examine the health of machines used in factories or utilities that process water.

Elsewhere, AT&T announced a deal with Current and GE to connect cities in the US and Mexico to the IoT. This will include developing digital infrastructure which addresses traffic flow issues, parking, monitoring of air quality and weather emergency alerts.

A 5G future

The GSMA’s ‘Next Element’ tagline to the event this year was undoubtedly referring to 5G. With the abundance of 5G tech on show, however, it was easy to forget that this technology is indeed the ‘next’ element, and a few years off being the current connectivity standard.

5G requires new technology to be developed and – most importantly – new standards to be agreed upon. This will only be achieved through cooperation and partnerships between various sections of the mobile ecosystem.

A number of such partnerships were announced at MWC this year, including between Reliance Jio and Samsung. The companies held a joint press conference at which they announced plans to develop 5G and LTE-Advance Pro services in India. Similarly, Nokia and MediaTek announced that they will together develop a 5G-enabled ecosystem for commercial implementation.

In the next 12 months we will hopefully be further along the road to 5G. We will also see improved handsets, better connected cities and even more vertical industries embracing mobile technology, all in time for MWC 2018.

Have a safe trip home, and hope to see you next year!


Ian Hood
Ian Hood CEO