No prizes for guessing the key takeaway from this year’s MWC19 Shanghai: 5G is here, and China is among those leading the way. 5G connections are predicted to reach 460 million by the end of 2025, making up almost a third of the country’s total connections.
As BICS returns from the tradeshow floor to the office floor, we share some key learnings from the event, and discuss why the migration towards 5G underscores the importance of delivering accessible, global connectivity for all people and things.
Connecting ‘things’ will be big business
“Connectivity will be critical to digitalising the economy, and we see 5G as the necessary backbone of this development,” said Ericsson’s President and CEO, Börje Ekholm on the first day of MWC19 Shanghai. “This is a fundamental shift for mobility – from empowering consumers to empowering industries.” This is particularly evident in China, where the ‘Made in China’ stamp, which once adorned a host of low-cost everyday consumer goods, has been adopted as the tagline for the company’s ambition to dominate the tech sector by 2025. Investment and innovation in the Industrial IIoT sector (IIoT) will mean that, by 2025, the region’s IIoT connections will account for a third of the global total 13.8 billion.
Industrial enterprises will benefit from automation and operational efficiencies, but the revenue opportunities for operators are equally sizeable. MNOs and MVNOs should seize machine-to-machine connectivity as the next major market opportunity – something many in the industry are already doing, leveraging BICS’ global IoT platform.
5G still equals fun
5G for enterprise and industry was everywhere at MWC19 Shanghai – but there were still plenty of demos and launches of consumer gadgetry and show-off tech. Chinese brand Vivo launched its AR glasses and new 5G smartphone. The glasses will project AR content and the handset will ‘act as the control that allows [the] user to switch and select applications,’ the company stated. The smartphone can serve as a console when playing games, or a keyboard when in ‘office’ mode, for example.
Chinese telecoms giant ZTE also had a range of (fun!) consumer use cases on show, enabled by a just-launched portfolio of 5G devices. These included AR and cloud gaming, 4K video streaming and 5G 8K live broadcast.
The success of consumer apps like these will be dependent on their widespread adoption and use – at home and abroad. 5G roaming will, in the near future, provide a way for smartphone users to stream and game in high-quality and real-time, wherever they travel, without interruption. BICS’ network already carries over 50% of the world’s 3G and 4G data roaming traffic – a figure which will skyrocket once 5G is added to the mix.
Global connectivity remains a SDG
At its heart, mobile is about connecting everyone and everything to a better and sustainable future. This underpins the GSMA’s United Nations dedication to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and is an ethos shared by BICS. Many of the IoT innovations on show in Shanghai focussed on just that. In key sectors such as healthcare and agriculture, exhibitors and speakers showed how global, reliable connectivity can improve wellbeing, society and the economy, especially in emerging markets.
This included an agricultural proof of concept: a ‘smart greenhouse’ equipped with sensors which measure soil and atmospheric factors. Data is then sent to the farmer via an app who is able to better allocate resources and optimise crop yields. Its creators hope this will contribute to China’s SDG commitment to become fully self-sufficient in staple foods by the end of the decade.
Enabling use cases such as these will depend on end-users’ ability to access reliable connectivity. BICS has over 120 points-of-presence worldwide, part of a global network giving communication service providers point-to-point data services and access to the IPX community. We’re constantly evolving our infrastructure and building on our partnerships, helping to deliver more and better connectivity to more people and projects.
As a socially responsible organisation and as a global player we follow strict ethical values. We feel that everyone at MWC19 Shanghai and in the wider telecoms community has a part to play in creating a sustainable, connected environment.
It’ll be interesting to see how these trends develop over the coming months, and to note the progress made when we reach MWC19 Los Angeles in October, and later MWC20 Barcelona. By the time MWC20 Shanghai comes around again we’ll be living, working and benefitting from a more advanced 5G world.