The biggest telecommunications event in the world, Mobile World Congress, was held in Barcelona in February. Kathy Gibson attended to find out what the future holds for 5G, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and more

Emerging markets lead in digital innovation

Emerging markets are not only capable of becoming digital economies: they are already leading in numerous areas.

The disruption we see in the developing world is a little different from developed markets and is potentially life-changing, points out Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx.

“Disruption has traditionally been a bit of a cliché,” he says. “But within just a few years, M-Pesa utterly transformed the Kenyan economy; today the East African economy is driven by mobile money.

“This shows that disruption is possible – and using the most basic technology is also possible.”

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Mainstream IoT poses new challenges

As Internet is Things (IoT) becomes mainstream, organisations are starting to get a clearer picture of the challenges its poses.

Andy Brown, executive director: IoT and enterprise at Strategy Analytics, says organisations are phasing in IoT now, often using line of business rather than IT budgets.

However, the issues and challenges are firmly in IT’s court, as IoT is poised to release new data and integration issues.

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Rain rolls out Africa’s first commercial 5G network

Rain has officially launched the first 5G network in South Africa, making it not only the first in Africa, but among the first global adopters of the technology too.

Mobile data-only operator Rain has built the 5G network using its 3,6GHz spectrum, using Huawei’s end-to-end 5G solution.

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Rain rolls out 5G to Cape Town with Nokia

South African operator Rain is in the headlines again, launching South Africa’s first commercial-ready 5G network in Cape Town.

Rain deployed the first 5G site last November, and aims to introduce 5G services in South Africa’s major cities this year. Earlier this week, it announced that it is partnering with Huawei to build a 5G network in Johannesburg.

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5G set to soar in MEA

5G is expected to reach 30-million subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) by the end of 2024, representing 2% of total mobile subscriptions. This will make 5G the fastest generation of cellular technology to be rolled out on a global scale, according to the new MEA edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.

Key drivers for 5G deployment include increased network capacity, lower cost per gigabyte and new use case requirements.

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Safaricom in world-first 400G network rollout

Kenya’s Safaricom is to build the world’s first end-to-end 400G backbone network.

The network operator will deploy’s Huawei’s end-to-end systems as it upgrades its existing 100G backbone to increase traffic volumes between the main urban centres of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumi.

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GSMA calls for connectivity-friendly regulations

The GSMA is calling on the European parliament to modernise regulation and create the right conditions for a new era of intelligent connectivity.

The organisation has launched “The Mobile Industry Manifesto for Europe” on behalf of its European members, highlighting its vision for Europe’s digital future. Ahead of the European Parliament elections this spring.

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AI and the move to democratisation

Big data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) or other cognitive technologies are at the heart of the future smart enterprise.

But enterprises are increasingly aware of the fact that AI could deepen the digital divide while simultaneously reinforcing bias.

Beth Smith, GM for Watson AI Data, points out that democratising AI and eliminating bias are big issues, and it’s important that organisations get on top of them so that businesses can achieve true value from AI.

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The societal impact of mobile money

Greater financial inclusion has a massive impact on lives, economies and innovation – especially in emerging markets.

The GSMA today unveiled its eighth annual State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, providing a comprehensive picture of mobile money adoption and usage around the globe.

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Africa and the future of 5G

South Africa, along with Kenya, Namibia and Mauritius, will have commercially-available 5G services up and running by 2022.

This is according to forecasts by Ovum which cautions, however, that initial 5G uptake on the continent will be modest, with only 5,9-million mobile 5G connections on the continent at end-2023.

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WiFi 6 a catalyst for intelligent connectivity

The industry is pushing towards the goal of a fully-connected intelligent world, but the challenges of capacity, bandwidth and latency threaten its smooth adoption.

This is the word from Steven Zhao, campus network domain president at Huawei Data Communications product line, who adds that WiFi 6 offers a solution that enables this intelligent connected world to empower industry transformation.

Indeed, it is thought that WiFi 6 will have been deployed by 90% of enterprises by 2023.

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Huawei aims for simplified low-cost 5G networks

No-one can doubt the popularity of 5G and the speed at which it has taken the world by storm.

To illustrate, it was just one year since the 5G device standard were announced but devices built on that standard are available today.

Another indication is that Huawei has already signed up 30 5G contracts with telecommunications operators, and made more than 40 000 5G equipment shipments to global customers, says Yang Chaobin, chief marketing officer: wireless network at Huawei Technologies.

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Distributed storage enables cloud-based telecoms

As telecommunications operators move to cloud-based data centres and networks, distributed storage is becoming a necessary reality for them.

Huawei has launched its next generation of data centre-level converged distributed storage. FusionStorage 8.0 is designed to help carriers and other enterprise users to cope with cloud migration challenges, according to Meng Guangbin, president of IT product line intelligent storage and data management domain at Huawei Technologies.

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What’s keeping operator CTOs up at night?

In the era of intelligent connectivity, networks are key to bringing everything together – and this puts the chief technology officers (CTOs) of the world’s telecommunications companies on the spot.

5G has the potential to be a real game-changer for telcos, but the realisation is dawning that the underlying telecoms platforms need to have a new and flexible architecture that allows them to take advantage of not only 5G, but all new technologies and innovations coming down the line.

A panel discussion at Mobile World Congress assembled chief technology officers from some of the world’s leading telecommunications operators to talk about what keeps them up at night – and what excites them about each new day.

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AI and its impact on society

The world is at an inflexion point where we can take advantage of a raft of intelligent new technologies – but there are major concerns about the societal effects of those technologies.

“It’s important the we usher these new technologies into society in the right way,” says Mark Foster, senior vice-president of IBM Global Business Services.

We are experiencing a convergence of technologies, which are coming together at scale, and will change the way business gets done, he adds.

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The journey to intelligent connectivity

Telecommunications is enabling the move towards a smart, more connected world – but the industry is still striving for more level playing fields while providing better trust.

According to Mats Granryd, director-general of the GSMA, networks themselves are evolving to be more liquid and smarter.

He used his keynote address at MWC 2019 to appeal to regulators and governments to enable a more open and competitive environment within which telecommunications can thrive.

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Huawei unveils slimmest foldable 5G smartphone

Huawei has launched a foldable smartphone, the Mate X, making it just the second vendor to offer a commercially-available foldable device.

The 5G phone, with its flexible OLED FullView display, is either a 6,6-inch smartphone when folded or an 8-inch tablet when unfolded.

When it’s folded into a smartphone the screen wraps all the way around the device.

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Huawei reaffirms commitment to SA

Huawei has reiterated how important the South African market is to the telecommunications and IT giant.

David Chen, vice-president: southern Africa region marketing and solutions sales department, says the country is of strategic importance as the leading African market.

“It is the biggest market in Africa, so we are paying a lot of attention to South Africa,” he says.

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The challenge of powering 5G

5G has moved quickly from a distant dream to definite reality. But operators need to think about the energy required to keep their 5G networks running.

Fong Liangzhou, vice-president network energy product line, points out that telecommunications companies should look at modernising their power systems now.

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eSIM adoption takes off in China

The global eSIM ecosystem has taken off over the past two years, driven in large part by standards adopted by the GSMA as well as massive take-up by Chinese telcos.

A new report highlighting the significant progress made by Chinese mobile operators, vendors and manufacturers in adopting Remote SIM Provisioning and eSIM technologies, “eSIM in China: the road ahead” was prepared by GSMA Intelligence in partnership with the Telecommunication Terminal Industry Forum Association (TAF).

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Rakuten Selects NEC’s and Netcracker’s solutions

NEC Corporation and Netcracker Technology announced today that Rakuten, the Japan-based global leader in internet services, has selected Netcracker’s next-generation digital business and operations solutions to enable a disruptive go-to-market strategy with its mobile network launch.

Rakuten will leverage Netcracker’s end-to-end digital BSS solution to ensure the delivery of consistent and superior digital experiences across its communications channels.

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