After much hype from the big players in the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress (MWC) is currently underway in Barcelona. Along with a huge range of devices, including smartphones, tablets and wearables, the conference has so far seen several big partnerships, initiatives and technologies being announced.
CBR rounds up some of the biggest news from the conference for the telecoms industry so far.
1. The Headliner: New smartphones
The Samsung Galaxy S7 was the big headline-grabber, but several other major names have unveiled devices. The S7 and S7 edge have restored expandable storage (absent from the S6), as well as adding wireless charging and VR capabilities.
Mobile operators in the UK have been quick to offer the devices, with the S7 available from all four of the country’s big operators, as well as MVNOs such as Tesco Mobile.
LG announced the G5 model, a modular smartphone that allows customers to add parts to the phone to customise it.
Sony is continuing its battle to protect its flagging smartphone business with the launch of the X series devices. These emphasise battery life and the quality of the camera; a new technology in the latter will boost its ability to lock onto subjects by predicting their motion.
HTC unveiled three Desire smartphones, the 530, 630 and 825, as well as a global variant on the One X9 smartphone.
2. Rich Communications Services
The names behind this initiative are big: it includes the UK-based Vodafone, as well as other operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Telstra and Sprint. The GSMA is spearheading the initiative, with Google participating on the device side.
This industry aims to provide a globally interoperable messaging service for Android devices.
The aim is to transition to a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android client provided by Google.
This alignment on a universal RCS profile will allow mobile operators to deploy the same implementation, feature set and configuration. Features including group chat, high-resolution photo-sharing, read receipts will be able to become part of the operator messaging experience for SMS users.
Mobile operators will be able to either deploy their own infrastructure or use Google’s Jibe Platform when rolling out the standard.
3. 5G router
Cisco, Ericsson and Intel are working together to develop and trial the first ever 5G router.
Touted as offering 1 Gbps speeds, the router will combine Cisco and Ericsson’s networking technologies with Intel chips.
The router targets both business and residential customers and aims to offer them faster speeds as well as lower latency and the ability to handle an increasing number of devices.
4. Telecom Infra Project
From Facebook comes the Telecom Infra Project, an initiative focused on engineering that aims to bring operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators and other companies together to collaborate on developing new technologies to deploy telecom network infrastructure.
The project aims to bring a community of telcos together to deal with the challenges presented by the growing number of people online.
The members of TIP will collaborate on design in three key areas: access, backhaul and core and management. Facebook, Intel and Nokia are contributing an initial suite of reference designs and Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom will help define and deploy the technology.
This isn’t Facebook’s first move to turn telcos into partners and customers; it has also spearheaded an initiative called the Open Compute Project (OCP) in an attempt to drive open collaboration in data centres, which was part of the inspiration for the TIP.
Operators including EE, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom and Verizon have signed up.
Facebook places these initiatives alongside Internet.org, within the wider context of trying to expand connectivity around the world to boost take-up of Facebook services.
5. Expanding the mobile internet
Also on the expanding connectivity theme, Orange and Google have signed a strategic partnership that will see them working to increase access to the mobile internet in areas that are not currently well-served.
Orange will bring mobile network expertise and technology while Google will provide know-how in mobile applicatons.
The customers in the Middle Eastern and African areas of Orange’s business will be able to get a targeted mobile package with a smartphone and bundled voice, SMS and data services. At launch, it will provide access to YouTube and Google’s search and maps services.
It is expected to be rolled out from Q2 2016.