It was an exciting first day at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, with a slew of product launches, fascinating digital experiences and engaging keynote discussions. However, the underlying theme of MWC Day 1 was certainly 5G, and looking at its rapid pace of development it won’t be too long before 5G takes over the world. Dominic Smith reports
With all the new device launches and gimmickry surrounding connected cars and virtual reality (VR) experiences, it might have been easy to overlook the core themes of the Mobile World Congress 2018. But if you separated out the signal from the noise, it was evident that among all the technologies on display on Day 1, 5G stood out as the technology to watch out for in 2018, as we had predicted in our MWC 2018 preview.
One of the keynote discussions which garnered a lot of media attention was ‘The Future of the Industry: Transatlantic Digital Policy and Regulation’. The hype surrounding this session was focused on Ajit Pai, the controversial Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, who was in the news recently for repealing net neutrality rules in the US. Now, whichever side you choose to be on in the net neutrality debate, Pai’s emphasis on 5G was certainly encouraging news for the industry. The FCC chairman revealed plans to hold an auction for 28 GHz spectrum in November, in a bid to accelerate adoption of 5G in the US. He also said that the FCC is eyeing spectrum between 3.7 GHZ and 4.2 GHZ and taking steps to make this band available for terrestrial commercial use.
In addition, the first 5G-ready devices were announced, with tech giant Samsung revealing FCC-approved 5G commercial products which will be launched later this year along with Verizon’s first commercial 5G network in the US. The devices include 5G home routers and 5G modems. In addition, Chinese company ZTE is also working on 5G smartphones and devices, and is pushing for a late 2018 / early 2019 release.
After speaking to operators, service providers and device manufacturers and seeing what’s on offer, it has become clear that 5G is ready to drive the next phase of growth and investment in the industry. With the first 5G NR standards approved late last year and the developments seen here in Barcelona, it seems likely that we are on course to see the first commercial deployments of 5G in time for MWC 2019. In the words of Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm, 5G is now truly ‘open for business.’
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