Good morning. Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2018 continued yesterday, with the focus remaining on the potential and challenges of 5G.
In a well-received keynote, Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm noted that high-speed connectivity is addictive for consumers and predicted that 5G will see mobile broadband traffic grow eight times to 2023. But 5G is also the first generation of mobile technology built for the industrial internet, enabling smart manufacturing, smart agriculture and smart cities in combination with IoT and AI. This makes mobile networks critical national infrastructure.
With this in mind, Ekholm urged governments to think of spectrum not as a source of revenue, but as a way to build national wealth. Governments should push operators to build high-quality networks that connect all citizens, he said. While harmonising spectrum globally and enabling operators to secure the right frequency bands is challenging, it is critical for 5G rollouts to scale quickly.
Speakers at the Future Service Providers Summit agreed that operators will have to look for new ways to stay competitive in this new era.
- Zhang Yong, president of Network Technology Research Institute at China Unicom, said the biggest challenge for operators deploying 5G will be how to balance high investment and low returns. When early 5G systems are deployed around 2020, mobile and smartphone users will be growing at single-digits rates, and global service revenue growth also will be near zero or even negative. China Unicom aims to cooperate with vertical industries and explore new business models.
- Lan Chen, president and CEO of Docomo Beijing Labs, said that its 5G network will need to cope with continuous growth in data traffic and new business cases across various industries. To prepare for this future, Docomo is collaborating with partners to transform into a value co-creation company. Chen also announced that Docomo is set to launch 5G services within 800 days (Sept. 2020). The operator plans to first build a non-standalone 5G system based on trials it began in 2017, with spectrum assigned by March 2019.
A new generation of devices will also be needed to drive growth in saturated and potential markets as smartphone sales look to plateau this year. Experts at Mobile World Congress, expect developments in both technology and business models.
- Pete Lau, CEO and founder of cult flagship-only smartphone maker OnePlus, revealed that the company’s relationship with Qualcomm is leading to OnePlus becoming one of the first 5G mobile phone makers. The launch will sync with the first year of 5G being available in the US, and the company is working to link up with a US carrier to expand beyond its direct sales model.
- HTC and China Mobile announced they will work together to accelerate the proliferation of 5G infrastructure and devices in China and to make virtual reality (VR) more accessible through tighter integration with smartphones. It was a big day for HTC as Chairwoman Cher Wong was the recipient of GSMA’s coveted Outstanding Contribution to the Asian Mobile Industry Wong founded HTC in 1997 and kept the global device maker at the forefront through the 3G and 4G eras. She has now radically refocused HTC again for 5G success.
Join us for our Day Three Snapshot tomorrow when we wrap up the final day of Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2018.