With just a month to go before the industry’s annual jamboree kicks off in Barcelona, Real Wireless CTO Simon Fletcher looks at what’s really on people’s minds in the build-up to MWC 2018.

So, what’s going to be hot at MWC this year? Well, the 2018 buzzwords seem to be all about Embracing Digital Transformation. And the conference summary makes some important points about sustainable change and ‘managing digital transformation in a culture of constant change’.

We too think this is important. After all it’s what we at Real Wireless try to do. A technology is only as good as its commercial and socio-economic benefits. Our aim is to help clients understand, plan and deploy technologies while looking at the most effective applications of those technologies and, going beyond that, to their implications for society and business models.

While it’s a fair bet that virtual reality, machine learning and AI, and bigger and smarter drones will all draw the crowds in Barcelona this year, real ‘digital transformation’ in Europe is better understood through the lens of EC programmes like 5G NORMA and, more recently, MoNArch in which Real Wireless has played and is playing a part.

Now let’s be honest. The implications of techno-economic modelling are not immediately obvious or indeed interesting to everyday wireless users (or, for that matter, quite a lot of wireless providers).

And yet, to understand the techno-economic potential of 5G is, in part, to understand digital transformation and the need to bring together technical innovations and their meaning for society as whole. As the 5G NORMA report makes clear:

“5G and the introduction of virtualised flexible networks supporting network slicing and multi-tenancy promise to disrupt existing business models in the mobile industry by expanding the range of end users of public mobile networks and providing opportunities for new entrants.”

Perhaps more than any other iteration of mobile technology, 5G can’t just be about developing and fine-tuning technologies and then waiting for a market to reveal itself. In Europe, in particular, the business case has already taken centre stage – we have to consider the risks and rewards of making it happen: for regulators, operators, vendors, end users and the many new service providers that could emerge if 5G fulfils its promise. We also need to illuminate and better understand the new partnerships – eg, public-private, enterprise-service provider – that will almost certainly underpin the success of these new networks.

And behind the glitz and gizmos in Barcelona this year, it’s the nature of these partnerships that will be the real hot topic of MWC 2018.

Simon Fletcher will be at MWC18 along with Real Wireless COO Oliver Bosshard. To arrange a meeting, please email info@realwireless.biz or call +44 (0) 207 117 8514.

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