MWC15 Barcelona Wrap Up : Technologies , Trends and Quotes !!


MWC is like a small city within the city of Barcelona, so imagine the excitement of meandering through this conference with all its 90000+ attendees gawking and awing at the technologies that will shape the world in the next decade.It is estimated that the Event has raked in some €450 million for the local economy .No wonder the entire City of Barcelona gears up to welcome the attendees.

There was of course no shortage of quotes , comments and pithy remarks from the Speakers across the Telco value chain. So for this summary i have grouped quotes under some technology themes that caught my attention .You can derive vital clues to calibrate your technology investment and business strategy plans from the quotes herebelow.


“ The mobile industry should consider 5G as a “special generation”, introducing challenges in all layers of the technology” (  Mike Short, VP of public affairs Telefónica Europe )

“ We have engineering teams working on LTE and 5G. Each time the 5G team unveil a new performance leap, the LTE engineers respond by matching it “ ( Matt Grob, VP & CTO for Qualcomm )

“We really do need 5G in order to have a paradigm shift. The order of magnitude jump in traffic is what is really driving this move.” (  Mischa Dohler, professor of wireless communications at King’s College London )

“5G is a fundamental change in technology and will have a significant impact on how we offer services. We must look at performance and coverage, and not just consider microcells.” (  Allan Kock, director of RAN development at TeliaSonera )

“ 5G must have green as part of its very DNA, ensuring that all aspects of 5G, from access networks, data centres and transport network to connected devices only consume energy when they are being used. However 4G is a success, let’s enjoy . We shouldn’t jump too fast,” “ Stephane Richard Orange France

“Most of our competitors talk about 5Gb/s and 10Gb/s or some other number, but they’re not telling you the configuration, which is ridiculous. 5G should not be a “forced leap” in technology, but draw heavily on  re-use existing radio air interfaces – LTE, WiFi and LTE-U – under a common control plane.” ( Marcus Weldon,  CTO of Alcatel-Lucent )

“Computing costs have fallen 1000-fold since their inception.We’ve achieved this change with semiconductors, we now have to do the same with 5G compared to 2G,” KT Telecom CEO Chang-Gyu Hwang

Ultimately, the success of 5G will depend on the success of the entire ecosystem, one in which innovation will become the key driver behind 5G development market demand.In the GSMA hyper-connected vision mobile operators would create a blend of pre-existing technologies covering 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-fi and others to allow higher coverage and availability, and higher network density in terms of cells and devices, with the key differentiator being greater connectivity as an enabler for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services and the Internet of Things (IoT)..

Bottom Line on 5 G : Hold your breath till 2020 if you insist on 5G or focus on monetising LTE and LTA A now !!

Telco Vs OTT

“ There is a clash of business models between network operators and internet firms, and that network players were left holding the short straw. We are an asset-heavy industry, where everything is interoperable and open while OTT is asset light. How can you compete with a voice, SMS or video service which costs nothing?” ( Timotheus Hoettges, Deutsche Telekom Group CEO)

” Operators are competitively disadvantaged with over-the-top players, owing to heavy infrastructure investment. Regulators should apply the principle of “same service, same rules” to players of every hue, and that consumers should have a “portable digital life” where it’s just as easy to switch digital ecosystems as it is networks. ( Caesar Alierta , CEO Telefonica )

“ Offering free basic internet services can help mobile operators grow their businesses faster in emerging markets. And once users get a free taste of the internet  they’ll be more inclined to pay for mobile data.The Ebola crisis in West Africa is an example of a place where a crisis may have been exacerbated by the lack of good connectivity,”  “ ( Mark Zuckerberg , CEO Facebook )

“Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations ( like Project Loon ). I think we are at the stage when it’s important to think about hardware, software and connectivity together. We are very happy to work with Facebook on”  “ (Sundar Pichai, SVP of products at Google )

“Those opposed to open internet rules, they like to say we used depression era regulation. But we took Title II and modernised it. We built our model on a regulatory model that has been wildly successful in the US for mobile.” ( Tom Wheeler FCC Chairman )

“I think you almost have two choices as an operator: either you say that you can be very, very efficient with pipes and that somebody else can deal with all of that and you’re going to have the lowest cost and the best quality on my pipe, transmit as much data as possible ” ( Hélène Barnekow TeliaSonera CCO)

It all seems so unfair that OTT players make their money by loading more and more traffic on the operators’ networks, thus causing the operator to pay for network capacity upgrades to facilitate the OTTs’ increasing VoIP and IM traffic that was the root cause for decreases in the operators’ core voice and SMS revenues. Telcos you can’t wish the OTT’s away anymore than you can do the same with your mother in law !!

Bottom Line : Collaborate or compete the consumer will have his cake and eat it too !!

Telco M+A

“We are clearly looking for distressed assets. If we can find the right opportunity, within specific countries, we will do that, “Big operators buying up whatever they can are rarely a success case. It bites them in the behind later. Operators “should start with in market consolidation, then fixed mobile convergence … then international – the latter is very complicated” ( Mats Granryd, CEO of Tele2 )

“There is room for consolidation in Africa. Our  focus is on building up  our position in its existing markets “ ( Marc  Rennard Orange )

“Authorities are starting to understand that the industry is setting itself up for a data only world. The Europen  Commission is a bit of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. When you discuss the merits of a deal they are extremely conservative. When you come with convergence and OTT as an argument they are not very receptive. The commission views  market consolidation as a question of] fixed cost efficiencies,” ( Thomas Wessely, partner at Freshfields )

“ The value of mergers and acquisition in the technology and operator sector grew 34.9 per cent in 2014 from the previous year, according to. The last time it was that high was in 2000,” said Thrasher. And last year telecom M+A as represented three of the ten biggest deals” ( B. Holt Thrasher, MD for Mooreland Partners )

“ We believe M+A as a potential means to transform its business as the industry moves towards software based service delivery. Our previous approach was more focused on filling gaps. We are now looking at a complete view of which new business we need to be in. The performance on acquisition is not necessarily stellar. It’s an important caveat. An acquisition is not a panacea, it’s not going to solve the problem”  ( Rima Qureshi, SVP, head of M+A, Ericsson )

There is no substitute for old-fashioned focus on the fundamentals of MA: a clearly articulated and well thought-out strategic rationale for the acquisition should become the yardstick by which to measure individual decisions that arise during the course of a transaction. Despite the clear economic rationale, there may still be some obstacles to consolidation, such as the unrealistic ambitions of owners and senior management or an investor reluctance to take a financial write down. While in-country MA has led to improved profit margins for the merged business, this has, in most cases, come at the price of a loss of market share

Bottom Line : Do your Due Diligence because mating two turkeys does not an eagle make !!

Internet of Things ( IoT )

“The pace of change in today’s mobile ecosystem sometimes makes it difficult to keep focus on core business areas like roaming that still carry tens of billions of dollars in revenue opportunity, Things (IoT) and wearables. It warned mobile operators that these newer innovations could be “market distractions” and carry an opportunity cost of up to a staggering $46 billion.” (  Mary Clark, Syniverse )

“ Given that M2M ARPUs are low, the cost of supporting sensors has to be significantly below that of supporting subscribers. If operators are going to cost-effectively manage a huge number of new devices in their networks then they need an understanding of the machine’s environment and enough information to trigger rapid automated responses to any changes that affect service performance (  Anukool Lakhina, CEO and Founder of Guavus  )

“The car of the future is a smartphone on wheels.” Dieter Zetsche, Chair of Daimler AG

” We believe  cyber security and approval from regulatory authorities will be key challenges when it comes to connected cars, but says both Nissan and Renault know exactly where they are headed with “autonomous” cars (not driverless). (Carlos Ghosn CEO at Renault – Nissan Alliance ”

“ It says something about the achievements of the mobile industry over recent years that many IoT propositions appear to take the mobile connectivity component for granted: there is an assumption that it will simply work. Interoperability will remain a critical success factor for IoT. Interoperability still matters. Any IoT device with poor interoperability will struggle to achieve scale. “ (Lars Nielsen, General Manager, Global Certification Forum )

“ From an ATT perspective, we are providing an end-to-end (E2E) platform that enables a unified experience across a wide range of devices and one-off capabilities in the market today. There’s a lot of noise in the marketplace that can make it complicated for a consumer or a business to make sense of this notion of the Internet of Things. It is important for us to show real benefits, whether you’re a consumer or business “ (Kevin Petersen, ATT Digital Life President )

“ The SIM card is evolving to support future new services in both the machine-to machine (M2M) and consumer markets. By 2020 we forecast nearly 1 billion cellular M2M connections and 9 billion consumer connections that will require SIM cards, so it is critical to ensure security and robustness in the evolution of the SIM.” ( Hyunmi Yang, chief strategy officer GSMA )

“ In the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) space telecoms operators will likely continue to provide connections into consumers’ homes and power the different screens. But to remain relevant within the connected home landscape ,  operators will need to find new ways to interact with the things people care most about in their homes – things that help them stay comfortable, help keep them safe and help them save energy. ( Chris Borros Nest Labs )

“It’s  ( IoT and Digital Life Platform ) not just a differentiator, it’s an imperative for success. Nearly every CIO I talk to has security as his or her number one concern. What IoT can do for businesses is so exciting, but customers want to know their data is secure,” (Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of ATT Mobile and Business  solutions )

Wearable computers, personalized advertising billboards and self driving cars are some of the items that appeared in science fiction blockbusters like the Minority Report to depict a futuristic world. Now, in 2015, this scene has become a reality. With the spread of smart devices, evolution of mobile networks and growth of smart technologies encompassing sensors, cloud computing and Big Data, the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) has finally arrived.

Bottom Line : Jump on the IoT bandwagon for the right reasons. Be prepared.. its not an trial initiative but a way of life !!

Finally the GSMA has demonstrated that they can grow and handle an event of this magnitude with M2M efficiency. Besides the GSMA is a treasure trove of stats and analysis which is available to members and subscribers. The Event was more about exciting new technologies rather than existing Telco problems.

As such the best view point came from Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Telenor Group CEO, when he said “ 70 per cent of the operator’s customers switch off data roaming when travelling abroad. But in the future we want to get rid of bill shock, so that mobile systems basically serve us. They deliver better peer-to-peer connectivity, better security and better privacy in the long run. Removing the bill shock phenomenon needs new pricing initiatives to create a new level of affordability”.

So while Mobile Operators invest billions in the mind boggling capabilities of new technologies that will they should also try to resolve their subscribers current pain BILL SHOCK. That will earn you new revenues , improve CoE , reduce churn…and less cause to complain about the OTT’s eating your lunch !!

Sadiq Malik ( Telco Strategist )


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