Five trends to watch for at Mobile World Congress

March 02, 2015 //By Junko Yoshida
Five trends to watch for at Mobile World Congress
Anything and everything in the world that demands wireless connectivity — cars, phones, homes, retail transactions, factories, buildings, wearables, public transportation systems, you name it — is descending upon the Mobile World Congress (MWC) next week in Barcelona.

The MWC is no longer reserved to smartphones and cellular modem technologies. It has morphed into a gathering place to discover and debate connected devices and new network technologies tailored for different applications — best represented by Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, aka, the Internet of Things (IoT).

The mobile industry is already hard at work adapting LTE for “Machine Type Communications (MTC)” via the development of LTE Cat-0 or LTE-MTC. But pay attention. Watch for big-name cellular network providers to announce their plans to jump in and start operating low data-rate M2M networks promoted by companies like Sigfox and the LoRa Alliance, said IHS senior principal analyst Sam Lucero.

Network operators coming to Barcelona for M2M are also alert to spectrum allocations, efforts now under way to define the upcoming 5G standard, and effective ways to deploy small cells to meet increasing capacity needs.

As the data explosion expands, operators are further scrutinizing the performance of their own LTE networks. They’re looking into carrier aggregation, higher levels of MIMO and other new features like coordinated multipoint (CoMP). CoMP sends and receives data to and from user equipment from several points to ensure optimum performance even at cell edges.

In handsets, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 uses Samsung's own Exynos 7 Octa SoC, instead of Qualcomm’s snapdragon chip.

Setting that aside, the biggest trend among smartphones emerging in 2015 and 2016 is a host of “always-on” features embedded in handsets, according to Ceva, a DSP IP core licensor. In short, your next phone will be always listening to you and watching, so that it can add context to your actions. More important, it’s intended to anticipate your next move, said Eran Briman, vice president of marketing at Ceva.

George Hsu, CTO PNI Sensor Corp. (Santa Rosa, California), agreed. Everyone is seeing “context awareness as the key” to streamline phone operations.

As a part of the connected life, “connected cars” will have a big presence again at the Mobile World Congress.

Whether enabled by cellular connectivity, NFC, RFID or vehicle-to-vehicle (V2) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, the heart of billions of connected devices is security. Lars Reger, vice president strategy, new business, and R&D for the automotive business unit at NXP, added, “Security is the name of the game…Otherwise, IoT is just a hoax.”

The owner of a connected device must be able to trust messages sent to others. He also needs to know the message his IoT device is getting is valid and trusted, not a prank note from a student hacker, Reger explained.

In the following pages, this article will focus on 5G, M2M, small cells, always-on smartphones and security, illustrating five hot trends expected at this year’s MWC.

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