MWC Barcelona

The mobile industry is set to descend on Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. It's the place to network, find business opportunities, and make deals

MWC Barcelona
How has the MWC established itself as an unmissable event for the industry? Well, the MWC has its roots firmly buried in the technology that built GSM into the world's de facto standard for cellular networks.

It's no coincidence that the show's patron is still the GSMA [GSM Association]. However, the MWC show has deliberately mutated away from just being about GSM and aims to be both platform independent and truly global. Its closest competitor is possibly the CTIA exhibition in the US, but even that show is not truly global and displays very strong North American leanings, according to one anonymous MWC exhibitor.

A group of leading industry vendors show their firm support for the MWC by sponsoring it. The list includes Huawei, Comverse, INQ, Mediatek, Tellabs, ZTE and Myriad, which sponsors the show's best handset/device category. Myriad's marketing director, Kate Hamilton, comments: 'More than any other industry, innovation is extremely important in the mobile world. That's one reason why Myriad chose to sponsor the show's prestigious best handset or device award.

'At Myriad we want to show our dedication towards delivering and encouraging innovation, and the best showcase for mobile technology in the world is the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. That's why we are attending and we'd encourage others to do likewise.

Leading industry analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight agrees: 'MWC remains the most important event in the communications calendar. It offers a chance to keep up to date on all the latest developments in the industry and meet with key decision makers. We still expect Mobile World Congress to be a key event in the 2010 communications calendar despite the challenging economic environment.'

The downside is that as an attendee you'll be just one of nearly 50,000 visitors. With so many exhibitors (circa 1,300), it's hard to discern parts of the exhibition it might be well worth visiting. So here's our guide to getting the best out of the MWC.

The Top 10 things to see at MWC
1 LTE (Long Term Evolution) - or 4G as some call it - will be a major theme at the MWC in 2010. In particular, the infrastructure suppliers like Ericsson, Huawei, Juniper Networks, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Zinwave and ZTE will all be looking to prove their expertise with this emerging technology. The MWC has always proved to be a showcase for first-ever techno demos and in 2010 LTE is the prime candidate.

2 Mobile applications are another hot topic. So, new for 2010, the GSMA is launching App Planet. This aims to bring application developers, network operators, handset manufacturers, OS vendors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs together to advance the state of the art mobile software. Firms sponsoring App Planet conferences include Sony Ericsson, RIM, Vodafone and the Wireless Industry Partnership.

3 Every year sees new technological developments and the MWC offers the leading test and measurement providers with the ideal opportunity to prove their ability to validate vendors' claims. Particularly pertinent is the ability to test the leading edge technologies. For example, equipment manufacturer Anritsu and testing house, Cetecom, are closely co-operating on testing LTE handsets (rather than infrastructure). Both will be exhibiting
at MWC. Other exhibitors include AT4 wireless, which specialises in evaluating Bluetooth low energy. Leading test and measurement specialists at the show will include Aeroflex, Agilent, KATHREIN-Werke and Rohde & Schwarz.

4 Femtocells are due to make a big splash at the MWC. Only two operators launched femtocells in 2009 - SFR and Vodafone. 'These services have been marketed to consumers as devices that provide comprehensive in-home coverage for voice calls and data services,' says David Nowicki, a VP for product marketing with Airvana. MWC will provide an opportunity to find out how femtocells apply to business. Nowicki claims: 'Femtocells can be deployed in an enterprise or small business to provide cheaper calling plans and improved access to mobile broadband.' Other major suppliers of femtocells exhibiting are Ubiquisys and Alcatel-Lucent.

5 One technology set to unleash its full potential in 2010 is Near Field Communication (NFC). A sign of NFC's increasing maturity came when Nokia sold its share in NFC services provider Venyon to Giesecke & Devrient (exhibiting) so the handset manufacturer could concentrate on building more NFC devices. A spokesperson for Danish analysts Strand Consult comments: 'Looking at NFC, we think it will start slowly in 2010, but during Q3 and Q4 we will see an increasing number of handsets with built-in NFC.' France's Sagem will be among the NFC capable handset vendors at MWC.

6 Some of the leading exponents of WiMAX will be attending the MWC. The list includes Starent, Red Bend Software, Saguna Networks, Kyocera and Coiler. There's also a WiMAX hospitality suite in hall 3.

7 The latest in antenna products are always a major feature at the MWC show. Among over 30 leading suppliers attending are Radio Frequency Systems, PCTel, Ace Antenna, Argos Technologies, E-Blink and Antenova.

8 The leading in-building wireless solutions providers will be exhibiting at the MWC such as Axell Wireless and Zinwave. These vendors provide radio coverage solutions for road and railway tunnels, in-building and infrastructure projects.

9 The MWC provides a great chance to catch up with the latest developments in Push-to-Talk (PTT). Among PTT exhibitors will be Azetti Networks, whose Presence service is fully OMA and 3GPP standards compatible. Its products work with Nokia and other handset vendors' products.

10 The dark horse at this year's MWC could well be Bluetooth low energy. Forget about connecting handsets to headsets, this version of Bluetooth goes up against diverse technologies such as barcodes, RFID tags and even NFC. It already has demonstrable applications in the medical field but it has potential in many business areas. Look for Nokia (its main supporter), Broadcom, CSR and ST to provide demonstrations.

Typical among the MWC's most enthusiastic supporters is Aircom, which won the GSM Best Radio Access Product award in 2006. According to group marketing manager Jo McLean: 'We have an excellent CRM system and can track back to measure how much business can be attributed to our presence at the Congress. We are already 33% over target.' The company also found that when its CTO, Ricky Watts, spoke at the show, attendance at its stand increased significantly. Overall, there are some compelling reasons to attend MWC 2010.
Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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