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Mobile World Congress 2017 – the year the future got that much closer

Twitter: @simonpoulter

In the age of instant information, when anything you want to know about is only a click away, there is no substitute for getting real. And that’s what Mobile World Congress is all about. It's why 100,000 people come to Barcelona every February, to see, to touch, to hear and to understand for themselves.

Take 5G, for example. As our industry takes the first steps towards commercialising this technology, Mobile World Congress 2017 provided an invaluable opportunity to show how much 5G has evolved from theory to reality. Yes, there are some who think it’s all hype, that the telecoms vendors are staging a smoke-and-mirrors trick to pretend that 5G is more of a reality than it actually is. But the fact is, 5G is actually closer than some might believe.

Importantly, though, Nokia went to great lengths at this year’s show to demonstrate that 5G will not just be ‘the next G’. Because unlike 2G, 3G and 4G, which were essentially evolutionary steps of mobile telephony with added features and, latterly, mobile Internet, 5G has the potential to transform how society – and industries – connect. At MWC2017, Nokia demonstrated the potential for automotive connectivity by showing how platoons of driverless, 5G connected cargo trucks could safely traverse large landmasses, or how shipping ports could dramatically increase efficiency using a combination of 5G and IoT to track and manage containers.

Seeing is believing, here’s what you missed:…

Many other 5G application ‘use cases’ which leverage the technology’s high-speed, low-latency and enormous capacity in virtual reality (VR) were also demonstrated. From digital healthcare to home entertainment applications and OZO VR to “network slicing” techniques, which can serve multiple applications in a single location such as a football stadium. In his MWC2017 keynote address, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri brought to life how 5G is augering a fourth industrial revolution, with a demo – live from the Nokia stand – of a factory robot assembling products in a simulation of how industries can deploy 5G-based industrial processes on a massive scale safely and securely, sometimes thousands of miles away from a control point. And then there were the monster trucks racing at the speed of 5G…

None of these applications have been theoretical. None, either, have been PowerPoint slides showing what could be. These have all been onsite demonstrations of technologies that are near-to market or even on the market, including Nokia 5G FIRST, the first end-to-end portfolio of technologies and services to enable commercial operators to commence their first in-market applications of 5G based on so-called ‘early adopter’ technical specifications.

Nokia’s presence this year underscored the rapid execution of its new strategy, encompassing technologies and services for Ultra-broadband, Cloud and the Internet of Things, digital health, VR, and the innovation strength of Nokia Bell Labs. Demonstrations of commercially available 5G and IoT solutions have shown how the company is delivering real innovation for communication service providers while opening the door to offering the same technologies to customers in vertical market segments such as healthcare, transportation and municipalities. Nokia has shown the range of what it can do across its businesses – from radio and fixed access to ‘anyhaul’ mobile transport, standalone software to services, VR and devices for consumer health and wellbeing. We’ve also underlined the powerful strength of our brand with the impressive new range of mobile phones – a new era for Nokia phones – from our brand licence partner, HMD Global.

Nokia’s presence at MWC this year has also demonstrated the power of collaboration, of industry partnering and being part of an ecosystem that drives momentum in innovation and execution. We have demonstrated our work with Intel on developing end-to-end solutions with customers in 5G, with Qualcomm and GE on creating private networks for IoT applications, and with China Mobile - the world's biggest mobile operator - how 5G’s speed and low latency could make a massive difference for emergency responders transporting patients to hospitals for urgent treatment. These are just the demos we had space for on our 3200m2 stand, or on the stands of our partners. We probably could have shown much, much more. But let’s leave that until next year.

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Simon Poulter

About Simon Poulter

Simon heads Media Relations for Nokia Mobile Networks. Having started his professional career as a music journalist, he got sidetracked during the last 22 years in the equally creative field of technology communications and consumer electronics. Check out his articles & blogs on LinkedIn.

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