MWC 2024 coming up: hopes for AI and ESG to inject new vitality

Allen Hsieh, Taipei, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: GSMA

The Mobile World Congress (MWC), regarded as the annual barometer of the telecommunications industry, will take place in Barcelona, Spain, from February 26 to 29. In recent years, the mobile communication industry has faced challenges such as the slower-than-expected penetration of 5G, especially with the lack of killer applications. Stagnation in the smartphone market also prompts an urgent need for more innovation and growth momentum. In the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the challenge of achieving net zero emissions, how to inject new vitality into the existing mobile communication industry may be revealed at MWC 2024.

AI integrated with sustainability in the telecommunications industry

Considering the themes of MWC 2024, including AI, cybersecurity, and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), AI is also integrated with the concept of ESG. For example, telecommunications companies are exploring how to optimize networks through AI to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Other highlights of MWC 2024 include 5G private networks, Open RAN, edge computing, satellite communication, network APIs, fixed wireless access, and more, all of which remain focal points for exhibitors. It is worth noting that sustainability is now profoundly influencing the entire mobile communication industry.

The theme, "Future First," signifies that mobile communication technology will empower various industries to realize their potential applications in the future. For instance, operators are beginning to offer products, services, and solutions based on 5G-Advanced and RedCap, enabling breakthroughs in smart manufacturing, healthcare, and even the Internet of Things (IoT) empowered by 5G.

MWC 2024 focuses on resolving the challenges of the mobile communication industry

Telecommunications companies have long been dubbed as "dumb pipes" that merely provide networks and collect monthly fees as communications service providers (CSPs) offering services based on networks have garnered significant revenues. Given the slow growth and capital intensity of the telecommunications industry, MWC will discuss the issue of "network cost sharing," which has gained traction in recent years, aiming to reform the industrial structure through the participation of network service providers.

With the absence of killer applications on the consumer end for 5G, despite increased network usage and steady global 5G penetration rate growth, telecommunications companies have yet to reap returns on high-cost network infrastructure. 5G urgently needs applications, including 5G-Advanced applications such as standalone networks (SA), to empower various industries through industrial upgrades and achieve the promises of 5G.

Moreover, the recent downturn in the smartphone industry has also led some to seek more possibilities through integration with AI and satellite communication.

As for whether MWC 2024 will showcase 6G, based on the current status of 6G development, 6G is unlikely to appear at MWC. However, the groundwork for 6G has begun, and some potential 6G technologies and focal points may be visible at MWC.

Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) emphasizes that overly pursuing next-generation communication is not ideal, and it does not want to see 5G lose focus due to the hype around 6G. There are still many upgrades and deployments of 5G underway, and without a clear path to monetize 5G, there is no rush to introduce 6G.