The three key trends from MWC 16: IoT, NFV, and 5G
There were three distinct yet interrelated themes at this year’s MWC in Barcelona that will likely have significant staying power in the years to come. These themes are the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables, network function virtualisation (NFV), and 5G.
IoT and wearables were everywhere during the show. Vertical markets like healthcare, transportation/logistics, and automotive seemed to be well represented in vendor and operator booths. There were also use cases with industries like farming and livestock.
IoT will be enabled, in part, by low cost sensors and actuators with battery lives measured in years, that are easily and economically networked to improve business processes and increase efficiency.
NFV is moving out of the trial phase and into capital budgets. Early use cases for virtualisation, like virtual CPE and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), have strong and easily quantifiable business cases and have been the first to gain traction. Given the explosion in the number of connected devices, NFV is needed in order to provide networks with the scale, flexibility and openness to core networks efficiently.
5G is the next generation of radio access and network architecture designed to accommodate not only the ever rising surge in mobile data traffic, mostly driven by video, but also to support the billions of connected devices imagined in IoT use-cases as well as in highly sensitive, mission critical applications like autonomous cars.
These trends will likely be a catalyst for a strong industrial cycle whereby businesses and organisations of all types will be increasingly digitised with the aid of sensors and actuators. These sensor networks will generate vast amounts of data. In order to reap the full promise of IoT, this data will need to be analysed and correlated across a wide swath of industries.
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