Monthly Archives: March 2015

MWC versus CES

This was maybe the most exciting Mobile World Congress (MWC) I have ever witnessed. And if my predictions hold true, it is only to get better. It wasn’t anymore about boring boxes of cellular tower hardware. It was all about software, startups and innovation, new handsets with sexy features, and over-the-top applications for both consumers and industries. We are clearly seeing a fundamental shift on how the telco industry ticks – and that is very timely! The first disruption is internal to the industry: 2015 is the year where we are truly going software. The implications are that we are now able to reconfigure the telco operations of an entire country from a single software script, e.g. over a cup of coffee in the morning. This means, capacity requirements can be addressed on the fly without needing to send in engineering staff. You guessed it, today’s large operational costs are thus minimized. The second disruption is external to the industry: Having softwarized the telco operations makes it much easier to address the (often capricious) needs of industries; this MWC thus featured a huge amount of industrial applications, ranging from a connected car to tactile excavator (yes, I am talking about a mobile congress here!). The softwarization, however, also ensured that innovation becomes so much more affordable; the congress was swamped with startups and young industries – innovators and investors alike suddenly started to feel that the huge telecom opportunity is actually addressable, no matter the size. All that buzz leaves me wondering when the MWC will be the same as CES – 2020? But it gets event better! Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg stated in his VIP keynote: “Telecom in the 90s was manufacturer driven, in the 2000s operator driven, and now vertical industry driven.” With 3G, we figured out that selling hardware boxes is maybe not all we can do with the cellular opportunity; with 4G, we thus focused on offering services to optimize the cellular experience. I am happy, however, that we have finally realized what every decent Internet entrepreneur could have told us some years back: The true value is in offering a compelling solution which addresses a real problem in industries. As Scania’s CEO Martin Lundstedt has said, “this suddenly transforms the expensive telecoms equipment from being costly to being valuable.” The projected transition towards the digital data value chain will take a while, however. Until then, Mark Zuckerberg will continue flying into Barcelona every year, drink his champaign on the keynote stage, and fly back … without having left a paycheck to improve the underlying infrastructure which actually enables his business.

MWC 2015

Off I am to keynote and panel at one of the world’s largest tech events which is happening in Barcelona this week – the Mobile World Congress (MWC). Over the years, it has transformed from being a pure telecoms playing ground to a show of innovation, rivaling CeBIT (Germany) and CES/CTIA (US). I am so happy to go back to the city where I spent 5 wonderful years of my life, and meet friends and colleagues. I will keep you updated on some of the most exciting developments at the event …

… what a Mobile World Congress that was! The best I have attended in years! There is a real buzz and excitement going on in the community, some of which I tried to capture in my subsequent opinion blog. I was involved in an amazing panel organized by the UKTI and the Future Cities Catapult on the “Industrial Internet of Things”. And I (as the only academic throughout the event) was on the main MWC stage for a 5G panel with the CTO of Ericsson, CSO of Huawei, Director of 3GPP, and Director of the ITU, and other luminosities. The room was burstingly full! The other highlight for me was to stand next to the world’s first 5G working system, designed by Ericsson – amazing!

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HackLondon 2015

I am so excited to be judge today at the largest hackathon the UK has ever seen, HackLondon is a 24 hour hackathon hosted by KCL Tech, UCL TechSoc and UCLe. Fares, our amazing undergrad student, told me “it’s going to be epic, everything is free, and any student can participate (no experience required)”. I am coming after they have programmed already for almost 30h without any notable sleep – I can’t wait to see all those lovely zombie faces …

… what an event that was! Full house and truly (!) emotional. Fares got a standing ovation from the crowd. And I also got carried away and decided ad-hoc to give my own prize of 2h mentoring + £200 book vouchers for a mixed technical and artistic writing hack called #TwitterNovel. It is a crowdsourced way of writing a novel via Twitter – great, isn’t it?