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My Journey through Mobile World Congress 2014



By Giovanni Fruscio (Marketing Manager, Service Providers, Cisco)

It was the first tim
e that Mobile World Congress started in a warm sunny day. Was it the prelude of anything new in the Mobile Market?

The temperature sensors scattered around suggested my smartphone to tell me what to wear and when I looked at it, I thought spring had arrived!!

It was the Internet of Everything (IoE), that is a network of sensor and actuators, human or machine that allows to leverage collected data to make the right decision at the right time. Easy? Not really, but I needed to get used to it because it was the opportunity for the future, for everyone.

A nineteen trillion dollar opportunity is out there, waiting. But let's proceed one step at a time.

When I got in the New Fira, I had the feeling, for the first time, that something had really changed from the previous years. Google had bought Motorola Mobility, making the Android community crazy, and then sold to Lenovo at one fourth of the value. Firefox Os was shipped for low-cost smartphones, while Microsoft bought Nokia Smartphones and Facebook bought Whatsapp. And, last but not least, security on mobile phones became the top priority for developers and manufacturers … it seemed that self-destructing mobile phones, like the James Bond's model, were the new frontier.

As a result, my feeling was that the booths were much more organized than previous years, when we had the telco section and the IT section, with developers and tablet/smartphone vendors.

Postcards from Mobile World Congress 2014

This year, instead, in the service providers area, a number of interesting services were presented: in the home automation, enterprise mobile applications management in the cloud, and remote control and assistance. For example, it showed a scenario with a car communicating information, like velocity, acceleration, status of the tires, operating temperature, etc. and, if there was anything wrong with any parameter, the operator could either modify it dynamically or request assistance support.

Same thing at home, were a typical environment was re-created and almost everything was remotely-controlled, from lamps to door locks, camera with identity recognition and management just to name a few.

And of course all of these great things were interconnected with Cisco Small Cells, providing not just coverage, but also interactive communication between sensors, devices and humans and humans to humans for all delegates at the MWC.

Some examples of these connected sensors were in the cafeterias, as you could pre-order food based on the inventory (sensors on the shelves), with your Near Field Communcation (or NFC) enabled phones and then, without queueing, go to the cashier and collect your order.

But then, looking at some people proudly going around with their new "glasses", I didn't manage to understand if they were humans or not. It's the evolution of species ...

Finally I arrived at the Cisco booth, where it demonstrated how powerful location analytics (as a feature of small cells) are. For example, with location analytics for hotels, one can better understand the movements and the behavior of a hotel customer and all that information can be taken and used to influence future decision making. Another example can be if one goes to the gym and discovers the treadmill is not working and he/she complains on his/her social network. In that situation, the hotel network can capture the information, have the operator send somebody to repair it and offer a free beverage to the customer.

Other two demonstrations should be noted. The former was showing how powerful network Function Virtualization (so called nFV) is: by dynamically adapting the network to the additional bandwidth and session requirements and repurposing unused servers for the burst of traffic coming from new sources of traffic, like sensors, cameras, etc. This was particularly effective because it showed that capacity allocation can be dynamic as opposed to traditional network nodes that provide fixed capacity.

The latter showed how to dynamically orchestrate radio network elements, so that more or less capacity or power is delivered based on congestion. This allowed operators, for example, to reduce dropped calls rate by 35%.

At that point I really had to leave because it was my car calling me at my mobile phone and complaining it has been outside waiting for me for the last 15 minutes …

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