What we learned at MWC 2022
Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog
First, as the first in-person large scale event in a couple of years for many of us, what a refreshing experience to reunite with colleagues – old and new – partners and clients: impromptu encounters, quick coffee breaks, stand-up meetings at the booth…
Here’s our take on some of the key insights of the event.
It’s all about Private Networks, with fierce competition at the corner
Private network was a dominant topic at MWC and it’s a crowded space. Most exhibitors had solutions to address custom campus network requirements: Tier1/Tier2 equipment providers, cloud-based solutions, telcos, towercos, specialized service providers, SI. Lots of partnerships and ecosystem play to expand service offering (eg. Microsoft leveraging NGVoice on VoNR).
Key challenges remain in the market: spectrum access & heterogeneity, devices availability and retrofit capabilities, scale for multi-sites/multi-countries roll-out & operations, roaming in/out capabilities, cybersecurity… And not all solutions will be fit to address critical comms requirements. Lots of innovation happening with new lightweight solutions and entry costs going down. Overall, the supply is vast and can cater to different enterprise needs and use cases.
Mobile Edge Compute
Mobile Edge Compute is another busy area. The combination of Edge compute with connectivity is key to enable AI/ML real time use cases (V2X, quality control, alerting, AR…). We were very proud to see Capgemini Engineering Ensconce MEC platform being showcased at Intel booth: the collaboration between Capgemini, Advantech and Intel on 5G smart roadside unit enables innovative V2X and ITS capabilities to improve road safety & efficiency.
Open RAN is here to stay. Aside Vodafone’s intent to use OpenRAN technology in 30% of its radio sites by 2030, the exhibition hall was crowded with many players – from established OpenRAN players (Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, Fujitsu..) to start-ups – active in virtual and cloud RAN.
Monetization remains a challenge for the telco industry. Essentially many public 5G use cases concepts were the same as 3 years ago: mobile (cloud) gaming, augmented fan experience in sports venues, etc. To materialize – and monetize – these use cases at scale, MNOs will need to open their networks with APIs: this will allow developer communities and service providers to create innovative services bundling in telco rich network services (slicing, edge compute, etc). For it to work, interoperability is key. To that respect the CAMARA open-source project, announced at MWC and supported by leading organizations – including Capgemini – is a steppingstone in developing a much needed open, global, and accessible API solution across heterogenous operator architectures. Together with the MEC federation project by the GSMA platform group – this initiative can bring scale across a fragmented telco ecosystem, with the possibility to seamlessly replicate service propositions across telco networks. After all, interoperability and portability have been central to mobile operators’ value propositions for decades. They need to be adapted to the 5G & MEC era.
AI is everywhere
Network monitoring, self-healing networks, automated network provisioning, end-to-end orchestration, cyberthreat detection, optimization of network energy consumption: the speed of AI/ML based innovation is fascinating, and maturity has reached new levels. Some demos on end-to-end slicing orchestration (Nearby Computing with Casa Systems & Saguna, Ubiqube & NEC to name a few) were particularly impressive. Telcos are starting to consider building and operate networks in a cloud architecture emulating the successful model of IT cloudification for time to launch new services and acquire much needed efficiencies. There is a whole new transition required to get the full potential of the network and run applications intelligently across the devices, the edge, and the cloud; Analytics & AI will be key to drive those efficiencies.
AI/ML are also heavily leveraged in key use cases such as Computer vision, Augmented/Mixed Reality, automated robotic arms and those somehow scary-looking robotic dogs.
Lots of AR / VR services/demos were on display (eg. collaborative VR experience seen at Orange booth) but overall the user experience of wearing VR helmets is still quite underwhelming in my opinion (especially with mandatory FFP2 masks!).
On the Augmented Reality front, the last few years have seen dramatic enhancement in form factors with lightweight smart glasses (eg. RayBan & Qualcomm collaboration) which can accelerate AR use cases take-up – for consumers (augmented travel, tourism, shopping, entertainment…) & enterprise (remote expert support, AI-guided tasks…).
Metaverse, see you at MWC2023?
Metaverse was a highly discussed topic in keynotes (including by Sotheby’s), perhaps less so – from what I saw – in the exhibitor booth, with some exceptions like SKTelecom (Kpop immersive VR experience, 4D Metaverse (!) roller coaster) and Telefonica, who announced a collaboration with Meta, and whose booth was available in real scale in the metaverse.
On the sidelines of MWC, Meta presented the Metaverse as an “unprecedented opportunity for the connectivity industry” and called out 5G & telecom industry to invest on network latency reduction, symmetrical bandwidth and higher speeds to enable a “true sense of presence in virtual world delivered to smart glasses and VR headsets”. How telcos would finance & recoup the huge investment involved is a whole different story…
Because it was uncertain until quite recently, and because of travel restrictions, it was clear that many had not put as high emphasis as usual on bringing news or releases into the MWC, especially on the device side. Sony and LG weren’t there, Samsung’s presence was minimalist.
Last but foremost, sustainability was a very important topic at MWC2022 and a clear key area of focus of the telecom industry. A lot of focus is put on implementation of energy efficient telecom networks (interesting to note the first participation of Engie & Siradel to MWC with services aligned to that very topic). Beyond network energy efficiency, players demonstrated smart innovations around sustainability. Deutsche Telekom’s smart IOT Lamp powered by wind and solar, with integrated services (Meshed 5G radio and smart cameras) as well its smart packaging concept were inspiring examples.
MWC2022 was an exciting show, despite (or thanks to?) fewer exhibitors and less participation. There was even more industry, less pie in the sky. Alongside larger companies, it was interesting to see the very dynamic & innovative ecosystem of smaller companies & start-ups.
Capgemini booth was packed all the way through and a testimony of the incredible breadth of talents & offering to help our clients leverage technology to drive successful transformation: 5G labs, microservices enablement platform, industry ready 5G use cases, Edge computing, network automation, ADAS, EVTOL, digital telco, sustainability offering…
Advanced connectivity is a vibrant space, and more than ever a cornerstone of digital transformation. We are at the start of the next transition: ecosystems are moving, with hyperscalers and Enterprises playing a growing role; and a significant shift is required in the ways networks are architected due to the scale and the complexity of the use case and experiences both for Enterprises and the consumers. Food for thought!
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|Pierre Fortier, Vice President, 5G Lead at Capgemini Invent
Pierre is Group Offer Lead for 5G in the Telecom industry. He has robust sector expertise in telecoms & IoT, helping clients develop strategic & prospective vision with a strong technological focus.