Looking Ahead to Mobile World Congress 2018: Trends, the ROADS to the Digital Future and Israel #MWC18

#MWC Mordecai Holtz


Mobile World Congress is happening next week in Barcelona (Feb 26-March 1). During Mobile World Congress, arguably the biggest mobile event of the year, it’s where phone companies, tech journalists, and industry experts from around the world converge to learn about the latest developments in tech, mobile devices, and its impact on digital transformation.

Mobile World Congress brings nearly 100,000 people come together to get a sense of what’s in store for the coming year. It’s an opportunity to get immersed in the mobile experience, see the cutting-edge trends, and explore the products of the future.

I think that this year’s MWC will be particularly important this year, especially after a less than impressive CES, according to TechCrunch, which means that the eyes of the tech world are locked on Barcelona to make up for it.

With one week away from MWC, the theme of creating a better future means that the rumors about what to expect are fierce, so here are some thoughts on the trends that most companies will be presenting during week’s Congress.

I’m fortunate enough to have been invited to Mobile World Congress by Huawei and I wanted to share what I think will be the trends that most companies will be focusing on during next week’s MWC.

It’s important to note, that by now, I don’t expect any major new themes per se to emerge, rather the discussions will take a deeper dive into last year’s core themes, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G and the Internet of things (IoT).  

While the talking points will remain similar, based on the pre-event releases, there will certainly be plenty of news about developments in these areas that will bring some great conversations and practical applications.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

It’s no secret that mobile content is no longer a trend. Today, companies are seeking some ways to push the standards and are looking to Barcelona hear how the tech giants will advance existing technologies.

Over the past few years, much of the focus has been on digital services and transformation. As an industry, telecom has transitioned to wireless, then to data and messaging, streaming content, geo-location and now we’re at the point of personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, Bixby and many others. The globe is well into the 4th Industrial Revolution – a world where the ICT networks are the foundation and AI is the enabler. This revolution is changing not only the entire service industry but it is also disrupting business models that today’s companies are founded on. The digital transformation is causing a major shift in the competitive landscape for all global enterprises.

Despite all the transformation, the market potential for digital transformation market, according to many researchers, is worth US$23 trillion.

In fact, according to Gartner, AI will still steal the show at MWC this year.

For the smartphone market, AI will impact how the major players use this technology to provide a more personalized experience.

In September of 2017, Huawei and Apple launched their flagship devices both equipped with AI.

Huawei Kirin 970 AI integrated chip

MWC is usually the stage for the major mobile companies to release their newest devices. I expect that with AI playing such a major role today, the key differentiator will be how advanced these features will be integrated in offering a seamless and optimized experience all predicated on the phones ability to merge the various device ecosystems (smart home, sensors, IoT) and leverage context, emotional intelligence, and virtual personal assistant to provide a better user personal experience.

With AI at the forefront of the smartphone market, the next logical step is changing the way in which consumers embrace augmented reality (AR). Google expects that by the end of this year, all smartphone will be AR enabled, which will only bolster the personalized user experience.

Winter Olympics and 5G Networks

As the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are set to conclude one day before the opening of Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest sporting event will set the stage for discussions of early versions of 5G.

The 2018 Winter Olympics’ theme is “Passion. Connected” which means that technology serves as the central enabler to empower athletes, coaches, and global audiences.

Back in 2016, Huawei Korea was selected as the Official Supplier of Network Equipment for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. During the official announcement  Lee Hee-beom, President & CEO of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG)  stated “Given Huawei’s advanced technologies and excellent services in the network equipment area, we believe that Huawei will supply cutting-edge network equipment to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, supporting POCOG to offer athlete- and audience-oriented network services that will bring to life unprecedented connectivity and experience.”

As operators work towards deploying 5G throughout most of the world by 2020, the ambitious goal of unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses is still in its infancy. As standards continue to develop, 5G will certainly advance but there’s still a ways to go in reducing the latency and enhancing the range of applications.

Still, with all of the conversations of 5G, there’s still one very critical issue the cost associated with deployment.

With so many factors, 5G won’t be the main talk of Mobile World Congress in 2018, come back in 2019 for that.

Huawei and the ROADS to a Fully Connected World

In a pre-MWC press briefing, Huawei challenged all industries to collaborate and push traditional boundaries of capabilities, connections, business, experience, and partnerships for a fully-connected, intelligent world.

Backed by a keen vision of bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world, Huawei’s Ryan Ding, Executive Director of the Board and President the company’s Carrier BG, said during the press briefing “Before entering the intelligent world, we are still faced with many challenges. To achieve sustainable business growth, we need to keep moving beyond existing constraints and boundaries, first internally and then externally.”   

Ding added, “Huawei focuses on ICT infrastructure and smart devices to provide a plot of ‘rich soil’ for the development of information, automation, and intelligence technologies. In this ‘soil’, partners can grow their content, applications, and cloud.”

During his presentation, Ding outlined a 5-point plan, which included how the company is helping carriers provide an experience that is Real-Time, On-demand, All-online, DIY, and Social (ROADS). These solutions enable carriers to build a comprehensive, 360 degree-customer experience across the entire lifecycle.

Here’s what some of my fellow Key Opinion Leaders and industry analysts had to say

New Product Launch for Huawei at MWC?

Official Huawei Press Conference Invitation (credit: Gizmochina)

Unlike last year’s Congress, where Huawei announced its P10, the company’s much-discussed P20, will not be released in Barcelona. The invitation to Huawei’s Paris event at the end of March hints to a phone that will be equipped with 3 cameras.  

Huawei will use Mobile World Congress to release over 20 new products, showcase the results of its cooperation with over 300 partners, host five forums, and engage in many other activities to share its practices and exchange views with the industry. The aim is to jointly embark on the ROADS to a fully-connected, intelligent world.


The number of connected devices is predicted to reach 30.73 billion by 2020 – offering new challenges and opportunities to global telcos.

Especially, as IoT continues to expand in both the consumer and business markets, the issue of security will become central to the technology’s integration on a global scale.  With an increasing number of major security breaches,  as the world becomes more dependent on smart objects, the target for security issues will increase.

I expect that during Mobile World Congress, much of the IoT conversation will focus on issues of security. As IoT transitions to becoming a major player in the world of mobile communication scene,  it will be interesting to hear more about the direction that the majority of the industry will take.

Israeli Representation

With security issues on the rise,  this brings me to another trend that is steadily increasing over the past few years, namely a strong Israeli representation at Mobile World Congress. In 2016, more than 10% of the companies at the Congress came from Israel or have their main R&D labs in Israel. Clearly, Israel is a major player in both the global mobile industry, specifically the network security space.

Considered a global leader in mobile telecommunications, Israel will have a strong representation in Barcelona, presenting a full spectrum of advanced solutions tailored for carriers, content providers, app stores, enterprises, and users.

At the Israeli Pavillion, Israeli companies will also demonstrate solutions from a wide variety of IoT verticals such as Cyber, mHealth, Transportation, Education, Smart city, Smart Home and many more.

As always, Mobile World Congress is an ideal event for networking for anyone involved in the mobile, tech or telco space. It’s not only a conference, not only a space for impressive exhibitions, it’s one of the world’s largest events to learn about the trends, insights, and future of mobile communications. I look forward to seeing where the industry is headed and reporting to you about the news and events from MWC.

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  • dianaadams

    Excellent post, Mordecai. This sentence stood out to me, “Huawei will use Mobile World Congress to release over 20 new products..” Wowzers!! I can’t wait to hear all about them from you. I know you’ll have a great time. 🙂

    • Yes Diana it will indeed be a great event and I’m looking forward to seeing what Huawei will release…thank you for commenting and adding insights to the conversation