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MWC19 SHOW PREVIEW: The best of the rest

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Paul Skeldon takes a look at some of the other areas worth checking out at MWC19 that might not be on the typical telemedia trail

The vastness of Mobile World Congress is, frankly, overwhelming. While most people in the telemedia industry will be focussed around Hall 8 and 8.1 – covering the many things outlined in the main features in this issue of Telemedia magazine – there are of course a number of other peripheral technologies to be found in the other halls. Here we take a quick look at some of the other areas where it is worth having a nose, should you have time.

5G everywhere

The big play at this year’s show is 5G – and for good reason. 5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, predicts that global mobile connections will total 10 billion by 2023 according to forecasts provided by Ovum. Also, by the end of 2023, global 5G connections are expected to reach 1.3 billion.

Latin America and the Caribbean continues steady growth of LTE connections and is forecast to reach more than half a billion LTE subscriptions by 2022.  Meanwhile, North America’s strong leadership in LTE will be replaced with early 5G connections building in 2019 and is forecast to reach 186 million 5G connections by 2023 for a 32% share of market.

“Growth of LTE is unabated, as LTE added 239 million connections worldwide in the third quarter of 2018,” says Kristin Paulin, Senior Analyst, Ovum. “Ovum forecasts that LTE will continue to grow well into 2022 and we will see a decline in subscriptions beginning around 2023 due to 5G growth. Regardless, GSM, HSPA and LTE will still be deployed worldwide in 2023.”

Worldwide, LTE is forecast to continue its momentum, reaching 6 billion connections in 2022 at which time LTE market share will stand at 61%.

New LTE deployments and upgrades continue and as of mid-December TeleGeography (GlobalComm) reported 624 LTE commercial networks worldwide, while 282 of those operators have evolved to LTE-Advanced.

LTE continues to exhibit high growth rates in Latin America and will be a key component of 5G deployment and uptake in the region in the coming years. Total LTE subscriptions in the region reached over a quarter billion by the end of third quarter 2018.

“The first 5G trial in the region took place in 2016 and we are expecting the first 5G commercial network to start offering services during 2019. However, it will take at least 4 to 5 years before this new technology has a comprehensive footprint in the region, making LTE the most relevant mobile broadband technology during the short term,” noted Jose Otero, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5G Americas.

LTE continued its healthy growth with market share increasing from 26% to 37% year-over-year at the end of September 2018.

Blockchain build up

Blockchain is also going to be everywhere at MWC, as it starts to be used to underpin everything from telecoms network infrastructure, to social networks to food distribution.

Blockchain features decentralization, tamper resistance, and traceability, and builds trust between transaction participants. As such, blockchain generates value when used in enterprise applications in specific industry scenarios. Enterprises in various industries are currently exploring the applications of blockchain, but deploying a blockchain on a cloud is no mean feat. Indeed, developers need to have a thorough understanding of blockchain technologies. Deployment is also time-consuming.

One of the many things being showcased by Huawei. Its Blockchain Service (BCS) for global use on 15 November 2018, after launching it for commercial use in China on October 10th this year.

Now available on the international Huawei Cloud website, the service helps global enterprises and developers create, deploy, and manage blockchain applications quickly and at minimal cost on Huawei Cloud. Its global launch lays the foundations for a distributed global blockchain platform.

Huawei Cloud is now focused on developing its blockchain platform to offer technical support for enterprises that develop blockchain applications and solutions.

Elsewhere, there will be demos of how Blockchain can underpin how everything from VAS to food can be distributed. One example is French supermarket chain is Auchen, which has adopted Blockchain to underpin its supply chain – with lessons for all businesses on how Blockchain can deliver for any chain of trust.

Having conducted trials of its blockchain tracking solution in Vietnam, Auchan is introducing it in its European markets across France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The technology allows the supply chain to record information about the products at each stage of its life and input these into one distributed and open database.

Consumers can then scan a QR code on a product at the point of purchase and access all of the information about the product’s journey to them.

The interface takes the form of a B2B application for operations in the logistics chain, a B2C application for consumers and an inventory management tool for authorities to check certificates issued by farms.

Meanwhile, Blockchain is also coming into play as a way of decentralising social media. SVPER, a social, instant video-only app for forming new real-life relationships in real time, launched its prototype SVPER app –the first mobile application that rewards you for meeting new people in the real world.

It replaces user profiles, pictures and text messages with instant video invitations designed to encourage users to convert online connections into real-life relationships – all run by Blockchain.

“We believe our app represents the next generation of social media, leveraging blockchain technology to make it easier for people to meet up offline and socialise instantly and safely,” says Jean-Baptiste Fort, co-founder and CEO.

But SVPER is not alone. Junto is a nonprofit open source social media project designed to move beyond the restrictive norms of existing platforms and inspire authenticity. Its new approach to social media will have no vanity metrics, like buttons, or AI-powered echo chambers that reinforce existing beliefs, it claims. It has replaced curated news feeds with the ability to discover information on your own terms. Junto wont own our sell your information and is completely free from advertisements. Again all run on Blockchain technology.

“Our platform is built on Holochain, which is a biomimicry-inspired framework to build scalable, distributed applications,” explains Eric Yang, Founder of Junto. “As a result, our members own their data. We don’t track or sell information and our platform is more private, secure, and censorship-resistant.”

Customer contact

In 2018 it was predicted that voice would soon be dead and that the only sounds heard in contact centres would be keyboards – or chatbots controlling the customer experience (CX). However, this prediction missed one critical factor: the customer. So says Peter Tetlow, Client Solutions Director, Ventrica – and he is right. So keep your MWC eye on some of the things that are going to reshape customer services.

Messaging is going to be a big deal for CX. Some companies have already taken the plunge into messaging, says Tetlow. Most consumers use messaging apps almost on a daily basis, and so it makes sense to use them to contact companies they interact with; additionally, messenger will enable conversations to flow and companies to engage with their customers proactively.

Meanwhile, natural language bots will grow in popularity, says Tetlow. Many organisations aren’t at this stage yet, but the use of natural language bots will continue to grow in 2019, allowing customers to use voice but in an automated way, that may well be linked to some form of machine learning to predict what the customer may want. This will allow multiple and more complex issues to be resolved quickly.

 

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