Huge hype but huge opportunities in 5G networks


As much as Mobile World Congress is a cornerstone event for the mobile industry, the fanfare this year goes well beyond state-of-the-art mobile phones, apps and accessories.

Next-generation 5G networks, which promise much faster wireless speeds, are getting a lot of attention this year as potential new applications beyond handsets, such as smart cities, smart stadiums, the Internet of Things and autonomous cars start to become apparent.

But according to John Furrier (@furrier) and Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s live streaming studio, the hype may be getting ahead of the reality. SiliconANGLE and theCUBE are covering the show with live and recorded interviews in their studio in Palo Alto, California, and with live interviews from executives at the conference.

One sign of the hype is the hashtag monitoring tools Frick uses that have ranked IoT and 5G above handset manufacturer hashtags. “It really supports a hypothesis that we had that while handsets will be better enabled by 5G, what 5G is really all about is it is an IoT enabler and a huge step in the direction of connected devices,” he said.

Frick and Furrier think 5G may take a while to live up to what it promises. “Probably in the short-term … 5G is probably not going to deliver on the promise up to the level of the hype,” Frick said.

But he added that over the medium-term, the opportunities are giant. “What does the world look like if you have infinite networking, infinite compute and infinite storage at basically free?” he said. “If you start to think that way, it changes your perspective on everything.”

Still, phones remain an important part of MWC. One important announcement came from SAP SE and Apple Inc. The pair has teamed up to give developers general availability of the iOS native development kit. The partnership will focus on iPhone and iPad and deliver access to 2.5 million developers to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and allow them to create native applications with iOS capabilities.

Many believe that Apple revolutionized the industry 10 years ago, but more recently critics have wondered if it’s losing its mojo. Furrier thinks they are wrong.

“Apple’s dominating on so many levels,” he said, first noting that it’s still doing well financially. More than that, he said, “they are a digital presence. As far as stickiness goes, it’s second to none.”

That said, he added, “Apple does have to stay on their game because while you look at Huawei and all the phone guys, they are in essence copying Apple.”

Indeed, there’s even a resurgence of the handset market, Frick noted. “A lot of early announcements around Nokia and BlackBerry, who are not often mentioned as leaders in the handset space … those guys are making a move and trying to take advantage of the void that Samsung left with some of the Note issues,” he said.

Here’s the complete video analysis, and there’s more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage here.

Photo: Kaspersky Labs