This year’s Mobile World Congress (News
) had a more positive tone as compared to the one that took place in the year 2009, according to industry analysts. At the show in Barcelona, there was an increased focus on various topics such as the migration to the NGN, 4G/LTE and innovation for applications, operating systems and the wireless ecosystem.
Ronald Gruia, program leader and principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, covering emerging communications solutions has summarized some of the key themes from the show:
Fewer new handset models introduced: Nokia (News
) and RIM had none, Motorola had one and Apple was not even at the show; other vendors such as Sony Ericsson and Samsung introduced new models.
Increased focus on applications and their environment: New operating systems were introduced by Microsoft – Windows Phone 7 – , Nokia (Symbian^3 and MeeGo) and Samsung (bada). RIM showcased new UI features and a new browser (Torch, to be available in 2H 2010); Android (News
) continues to gain more OS mindshare (Huawei, Motorola and other Android sets were introduced).
Mobile application fragmentation: The issue of ongoing proliferation of various OS environments was brought up by the BBC news organization at the show, as it struggles to reformat its apps for all different device types.
Data growth monetization more difficult: The introduction of flat rate, 'all-you-can-eat' plans is making operators struggle as they attempt to reconcile the gap between traffic and revenue growth.
CAPEX shift from radio to core: Core (including backhaul and packet core infrastructure) investments will continue to grow, as will IT systems to manage the changes in telecom service dynamics brought by the data explosion.
Operators seeking a host of alternatives to manage traffic growth: Capacity upgrades (HSPA and LTE deployments), cellular offload (Wi-Fi and femtocells) and policy control (introduction of caps, toggling down of throughputs, off-peak versus on-peak usage) are all in use.
Ongoing pricing pressure: Chinese vendors (Huawei and ZTE (News
)) are fueling most of the price erosion, with equipment cost pricing falling dramatically (e.g. Telenor’s six-year LTE overlay contract of $200 million is just 1.1 years of Telenor’s current Norwegian CAPEX outlay).
Ecosystem changes: The Operators recognized the need of achieving a higher level of cohesion in a fragmented marketplace and therefore led by the GSMA, a group of 24 carriers (including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Vodafone, China Mobile, China Unicom and Deutsche Telekom (News
)) formed an alliance, the Wholesale Applications Community, with a purpose to create an open industry platform. However, the presence of some fiercely competing operators within the alliance and the less than stellar results of other similar initiatives in the past cast some doubt on this effort.
The advent of RCS: Another GSMA-led initiative, the Rich Communication Suite actually has a better shot of panning out, with various activities being undertaken as part of this effort, including a trial in France involving the country’s three mobile operators (Orange, SFR and Bouygues).
In a nutshell, this year’s edition of Mobile World Congress was indeed a more optimistic one bringing about many interesting insights into the future with various innovations.
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Deepika Mala is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Erin Harrison