Mobile World Congress 2022: Setting the Tone for the Year Ahead
Mobile World Congress (MWC) was back in 2022 with the latest smartphones, tablets, wearables, home internet solutions and more. While the organizers were highly mindful of world events – including serious concerns over new COVID-19 variants and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – they did celebrate “a vibrant and dynamic edition” of the annual congress.
The overarching theme of “Connectivity Unleashed” showcased the power of mobile technology in our everyday lives and explored the ground-breaking technologies that will shape industry and society.
Five key trends from Mobile World Congress for the year ahead include:
- 5G: Conversation revolved around the profound effect 5G will have on everything that surrounds us in this new era of connectivity. There were several announcements around the opportunities that private 5G networks will provide to speed digital change across the public and private sectors and power the Internet of Things. The expansion of 5G technology was covered in the likes of CRN, TechRepublic and ZDNet. While the 5G race is nothing new, it’s clear the share of voice competition is heating up and will continue throughout 2022.
- Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN): As anticipated, Open RAN – the term for industry-wide interface standards that allow RAN equipment and software from different vendors to communicate – was a focus of much discussion around the solutions that are available now and tomorrow to support 5G deployment and the future of 6G. There were nearly four dozen demos of Open RAN implementations at MWC 2022, roughly half of them live on-site. Open RAN was covered by publications including Silicon Republic, TechRadar Pro and Light Reading. This is a natural build on the 5G story, so we anticipate coverage to continue this year.
- Metaverse: Predictably, the metaverse was another recurring theme referenced by a large percentage of companies at MWC 2022. Concepts around the metaverse were presented, while discussion focused on what it means, its impact on user experience and services and how it will present new challenges for operators in terms of how they fit into the value chain. Extended reality headsets and the underlying enabling technology also made a splash at MWC 2022, as companies continue to invest in metaverse-ready tech. Coverage on the meaning of the metaverse for the mobile industry was included in CNBC, Data Center Dynamics and Fierce Wireless. This conversation is just beginning – we anticipate spanning industries, sectors and geographies as real research, development and deployment heats up in 2022 and beyond.
- Customer experience: Numerous panel and keynote sessions emphasized the importance of providing customers and partners with real-time data perspectives and support. Matt McRoberts, SVP of global alliances at Braze, spoke on the importance of having a customer-centric approach while adopting automated tools. Many speakers specifically underlined the importance of using technology for humanitarian efforts, considering the current invasion of Ukraine. MWC 2022 coverage in this context was included in Mobile World Live, CNBC and Forbes. This is another theme that transcends technology, as topics like CSR and ESG are becoming increasingly important at all levels of business and customer interactions.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): Several keynotes and sessions highlighted how AI requires more transparency and reliability as it continues to play a key role in how companies adopt new technology and integrate it across platforms. Ricardo Baeza, director of research at the Institute of Experiential AI at Northeastern University, warned that AI developers must avoid biases that could arise when designing algorithms. Other topics ranged from how AI would help tackle climate change to how it would shape the future of work. AI coverage from MWC 2022 included TelecomTV, Data Center Dynamics and Mobile News. While AI is not a new topic, how we deploy it is. We’ll definitely be watching this space in 2022.
According to the organizers, there were more than 1,900 exhibitors, sponsors and partners, and more than 1,000 speakers – 97% in-person and 36% women. There were also more than 1,600 international journalists. While many reporters were eager to be back in-person for MWC 2022, in-person media attendance was not as high as it has been in previous years. Policymakers, industry leaders and the international community united in the belief that greater partnership and collaboration are vital to make digital inclusion a reality. Social chatter was generally positive and highlighted the experience of attending the conference in-person versus virtually, as well as the technology and discussions that took center stage at the event.
However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was also a painful reminder of how critical technology companies are in times of conflict, from facilitating communication with loved ones to addressing humanitarian needs. In the words of Vodafone’s CEO, Nick Reed, said, “With the backdrop of the Ukraine war, it’s a conference like this that reminds me of the importance of global sectors and communities like ours working together to advance society”.