Telecoms and 5G to dominate MWC 2019
5G will be the talk of Barcelona for the next week, but there's so much more to get excited for
On 25 February, Mobile World Congress, the manic, packed-to-the-rafters event for tech enthusiasts, will open its doors once again, and based on leaks and news releases in the run-up, it's poised to be one of the most exciting yet.
It's a mobile event by name, which encompasses more than just the latest shiny phone launches, something that it could have been mistaken for in previous years.
But now there is a new focus surrounding 2019's showcase. This is the year of telecommunications; 5G is about to hit the mainstream: it's already a reality for the US and pop-up demos are circulating the UK right now, giving trialists a taste of the sumptuous speeds that are on the horizon.
The earliest we can expect 5G for the UK is estimated at around August and that won't be the full 5G that's being tipped as the end to home broadband. We already have it on good authority that the initial rollout will be a non-standalone (NSA) network deployment, which means new infrastructure will be bolted on to existing 4G infrastructure to create something that offers speeds much quicker than those offered by vendors today.
We're still some way from full standalone deployments (SA) expected at the earliest in 2019, but what we can look forward to, first and foremost, is learning just a little bit more about how the 5G landscape is shaping up.
Major vendors and network operators are going to be talking about 5G far more openly and with greater detail than ever before. This will include how the new network is going to impact people's individual lives, businesses, and how it will interact with other emerging technologies such as autonomous cars and augmented reality (AR).
We've already heard about some of the promising new technology ahead of the show, such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem and Huawei's equivalent, both claiming to be the best on the market. In addition, the Chinese tech giant announced plans to move into the African mobile telecommunications market which could eliminate the continent's issue with having scarce fixed-line broadband.
So it's clear that these massive companies have big plans for the technology, and the exciting part is that we haven't even heard about the best stuff yet - it's all to come next week. Every company that has made pre-MWC announcements has said that more is yet to come, so attending the keynotes and battling the Barcelona crowd to reach their booths is imperative.
In terms of trends, AR and VR both stand to benefit from the low latency that 5G offers, so expect some cool demos and announcements on that front. We're no doubt going to see more innovation with autonomous vehicle tech, and there's also whispers of a new 5G data monetisation idea that could make for interesting reading. Wi-Fi 6 as a technology will also certainly get some air time, so stay tuned for that.
We couldn't talk about MWC without mentioning the phones. Phones, glorious phones. We love a nice new bit of kit as much as you do and there's going to be a shed load of glistening devices under the Fira's roof next week. We've put together a round-up of these in a separate article.
The conference is going to be crazy and hectic but also highly illuminating which is why we're really excited to bring you all the best news and announcements as they come in. Keep your eyes peeled on our page and social feeds for our content next week, live from MWC 2019.