Mobile World Congress Post-Cancellation Blues

What I was hoping to learn about 5G

Mobile World Congress Post-Cancellation Blues

It didn’t happen at MWC 2020!

Here I was, getting all excited about this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) and the big focus on 5G, and then the event was cancelled.

“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern, and other circumstances make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” said GSMA CEO John Hoffman in a press statement announcing the decision.

It's an unprecedented move. And although I completely understand the need to cancel the event, I can’t help but feel a bit let down. There was so much I was looking forward to hearing and talking about at this year’s conference.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

It’s hard to believe, but the wait for 5G is practically over. In the United States, each of the big four mobile operators has rolled out 5G in dozens of cities. When you think about it, we’ve come an incredibly long and impressive way. Back on March 6,1983, the DynaTAC 8000X mobile phone launched on the first 1G network in the country. That phone cost $100 million to develop and took more than a decade to reach the market.

Since then, we’ve progressed through 2G to 3G and then to 4G LTE, where we are today. A recent GSMA report concluded that 5.17 billion people around the world currently have a mobile device, representing 66.77 percent of the global population. Statista predicts that by 2023, the number of mobile device owners will increase to 7.33 billion.

Beyond cell phone users, 5G’s real potential is to drive growth in new enterprise business across a broad range of industries, from robotics in manufacturing and self-driving cars to virtual and augmented reality and telemedicine services—to name just a few. No doubt these opportunities and more would have been discussed at MWC, and I was looking forward to exploring the many innovative possibilities emerging as 5G unlocks a brave new world at the edge, including:

  • How mobile operators are aggressively moving to standalone 5G
  • How mobile operators are implementing mobile edge and network slicing
  • How mobile operators are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning

It is certainly not an exaggeration to say 5G is about to change the world. We are on the verge an era of intelligent connectivity that will power AI, big data, and a worldwide army of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. By connecting everyone to everything, across nearly every industry, 5G ensures that life as we know it will never be the same. The possibilities are endless.

NETSCOUT has been actively developing support for 5G throughout the wireless technology’s development, helping mobile operators plan, design, implement, and now operationalize and optimize their new networks. After all, we’re the champions of visibility without borders, which is vital for providing the service assurance and security necessary for 5G success. I’m pleased to say NETSCOUT is 5G-ready, supporting not only non-standalone but full standalone modes. MWC won’t be happening this year, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that things are about to get pretty interesting with 5G.

Find out more about what we're doing with 5G.

English is a director of marketing at NETSCOUT.