MWC 2015: from smartphones to IoT

Tuesday 10 March 2015 | 10:03 CET | Background

While the Mobile World Congress (MWC) is traditionally a podium for presenting the latest smartphones, tablets and more recently wearables, the focus of the event is increasingly on a broader connected ecosystem - the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). According to the GSMA, mobile providers will have an important role in realising the connected society. 

The roll-out of 5G is expected to provide the capacity needed to support the IoT ecosystem. According to a white paper presented at MWC by the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance, an alliance of CTOs from operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile, KPN and Tele2, the basic design of 5G architecture should support a high level of flexibility and scalability to help realise the IoT. At the same time, a fundamental change in the cost basis must occur in order to ensure sufficient capacity and energy efficiency.

Connected home to start

The GSMA published at MWC the report 'The Impact of the Internet of Things: The Connected Home'. The research conducted in Germany, Japan, the US and the US provides an overview of the status of the 'connected citizen' and suggests the connected home accounts for around 25 percent of the potential of the IoT. This makes it the most promising segment within the larger ecosystem of communication devices.


While the first 5G networks are expected to be available only in 2020, a number of global providers already offer some interesting cases for smart homes. AT&T for example launched last year its connected home service Digital Life, which already works with its car platform Drive and, announced at MWC, ForHealth, a connected service for monitoring health and activity.

TeliaSonera said at MWC that it expects the Scandinavian IoT market will show average annual growth of 23 percent over the next three years, to reach a value of EUR 9.1 billion. The Swedish operator expects the driving factors to be connected cars, smart homes and digital health. The average Scandinavian should own four connected objects by 2018, ranging from smartphones and wearables to cars and thermostats.

Deutsche Telekom announced in Barcelona that its suite of connected home services based on the Qivicon platform will launch in the Netherlands this year. DT sells these services in Germany through its own mobile subsidiary, but plans a different approach in the Netherlands. Further details will be announced by June. Qivicon can be used by other operators and OTT players. DT also announced at MWC a partnership with Cisco and Intel, called Challenge Up!. They will create an accelerator for IoT start-ups in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

5G for everything

Carriers at MWC took the stance of leaders in IoT thanks to the expected key role of 5G in meeting the demand for connectivity. Nevertheless there remain no shortage of obstacles to building a robust system. Not only is technological fragmentation a risk, but there are a number of questions pending on regulation, privacy and security. The sector will need several years yet to address these challenges and build on the growth opportunities. 

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