Full speed ahead to MWC23
After two years in which global pandemic restrictions hindered attendance, MWC Barcelona 2023 is once again back close to full capacity, spanning all eight halls of the Fira Gran Via with its trademark line-up of keynote speakers, conference sessions and big-name exhibitors. Here Mobile World Daily provides its top tips of what to see at the event.
The Velocity theme of MWC Barcelona 2023 holds something of a dual-meaning, highlighting the speed with which the event has returned to full strength, alongside the more obvious reference to the pace of change in the mobile and tech sectors.
Beyond the opportunity to socialise over the best tapas Catalunya has to offer and meet the companies expected to be making waves Four Years From Now, the Fira Gran Via will be jam packed with an expected 2,000 exhibitors and 80,000 attendees, all clamouring to discuss the latest developments in mobile and vertical industries.
One of the vertical industries historically keen to embrace mobile and related technology is the world of sport. This year, following an innovative partnership between GSMA Ltd and world-renowned sports club FC Barcelona, the 2023 edition of the Sports Tomorrow Congress comes into the MWC fold.
At its heart, the focus of the event is on how technology including AI and digital twins can be deployed alongside human knowledge to boost sportspeople’s performance and overall wellbeing. These sessions involve experts from across the sports sector, spanning physicians, coaches and nutritionists, along with those with knowledge of fields including AI and machine learning.
There will also be exploration of how the metaverse could emerge as a bridge between humans and machines, along with a broader look into how the services provided in busy stadia can be evolved.
One of the most popular zones during MWC Barcelona in 2022 is back, again shining a spotlight on how digitalisation is touching our lives in myriad ways.
Industry City offers a range of demonstrations, networking and content showcases highlighting how connectivity is enabling a digital push across fintech, manufacturing and smart mobility, sectors deemed as laying the groundwork for broader industrial application of the latest technologies.
There is also the chance to delve deeper into the sector, with the Smart Mobility Summit on Wednesday (1 March) focusing on how connectivity is fuelling developments in urban transport and sustainability initiatives, autonomous vehicles, logistics and smart city ambitions, among others.
Whatever your area of interest, Industry City has something for you, with hardware manufacturers through to government ministers seeking out the latest information on concepts including smart manufacturing, the IoT and how technology is contributing to the fourth industrial revolution.
Within MWC Barcelona 2023’s umbrella theme of Velocity it is fitting to find a conference stream on 5G Acceleration focused on how developments in software and digital innovation are powering mobile platforms to new heights.
This theme promises talk of the latest use cases being enabled by 5G along with practical examples of these in enterprise settings, and there will also be a keen eye on the momentum building behind the evolution of mobile technology towards 6G, quantum computing and further improvements in network efficiency.
How 5G is being employed to deliver fixed wireless access (FWA) services is likely to be a key strand, along with the role of spectrum in paving the way to 6G and analysis of whether private networks are delivering on their promise.
The metaverse is again set to dominate the exhibition and speaker spaces at MWC Barcelona 2023, though this year the focus shifts from how immersive technology is enabling consumer entertainment to how it will be employed to revolutionise customer journeys, particularly when paired with the latest developments in 5G.
As part of the Reality+ theme, metaverse discussions sit alongside conversations around VR, AR and XR; AI, the evolution of web standards and, of course, the latest innovations in the gaming sector.
Talk of network acceleration and evolution inevitably involves a look at the latest moves around open and virtualised infrastructure with the OpenNet theme.
With momentum around open and virtualised infrastructure now well established, this thread shifts the attention to the longer-term, exploring how such networks should be managed to ensure security and maintain performance.
Alongside discussion on developments enabling operators to tweak networks to differentiate services, the theme also promises to cover other key topics including network slicing, satellite connectivity and even how to prepare for a metaverse-driven future.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) grabbed a fair portion of the MWC Barcelona headlines in 2022 and are set to be explored further in this year’s event as part of the broader Fintech theme.
The tokens have generated their share of bad press due to allegations some high-profile schemes are fraudulent, leading neatly into broader discussion on financial services security, a topic which will also touch on the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors.
Both sectors have edged closer to the mainstream during a pandemic-fuelled rise in online and mobile financial service usage, which many regard as holding the key to transacting in the digital economy of the future.
This shift to an online economy forms one element of the Digital Everything theme, which encompasses the opportunities and challenges involved in consumer and business services, along with the growing use of technology in the industrial sector.
This theme explores how the foundational work being undertaken by the industry today will evolve over time, contributing to ongoing Industry 4.0, smart factory and transportation developments alongside consumer-oriented services including entertainment.
MWC Barcelona 2023’s exhibition halls are once again set to be buzzing with activity, with a host of big-names spanning network equipment suppliers, handset giants, mobile operators, software companies and more.
The easing of travel restrictions in China means vendors Huawei and ZTE will have an even-bigger presence in 2023 than during the 2022 event (in fact Huawei will have its largest ever presence at the show), with Nokia and Ericsson also pitching up with huge space.
Expect all four to showcase the latest innovations in mobile technology, including 5G-Advanced, network slicing and early work on the road to developing 6G.
The list of operators has also truly regained its international flavour, including Orange, LG Uplus, NTT Docomo, Veon, Verizon and more.
Leading handset and silicon manufacturers will also be plugging their latest wares, with Samsung, Nokia licensee HMD Global, TCL Communication, Sony, Xiaomi, Broadcom, Qualcomm and chip design company Arm among the standout names.
There is also a major presence from the aerospace industry at a time of feverish interest in the potential to bridge digital divides and even provide mobile services from satellites. Companies including OneWeb, Airbus, Intelsat and Thales Group will be on the floor to showcase the latest developments in this connectivity space race.
The exhibition halls also offer the opportunity to dial into specific developments around apps, advertising technology, e-commerce and marketing communications, and there is also talk of a Segway racetrack, as the automation specialist turns the Velocity theme into reality.
Journey to the Future
A new addition to the showfloor this year is ‘Journey to the Future’ in Hall 6, designed to be an immersive storytelling space that will offer attendees an experiential, hands-on journey into the future of technology and connectivity solutions.
Highlights include the HyperloopTT capsule made by Airtificial, the next generation of high-speed mobility. The Next Hospital space will showcase some incredible opportunities in medical and surgical specialties from remote diagnosis to precision medicine and genetic prevention. And the ABLE Exoskeleton will show how tech can assist an individual with mobility impairment to stand up, walk and sit down.
As ever, MWC Barcelona features a busy conference programme across the main sessions and a series of seminars offering a deep-dive into topics including security; identity and data; eSIM; 5G; MVNOs; mobile money; and climate impact.
For the main conference, event organiser the GSMA has lined up a top-notch list of keynote speakers, with ITU secretary-general Doreen Bogdan-Martin; KT president and CEO Hyeon-Mo Ku; Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange; and ZTE chief development officer Cui Li Maggie joining the heads of Nokia and Ericsson, Pekka Lundmark and Borje Ekholm, and chiefs from a host of adjacent industries including Lockheed Martin chair, president and CEO James Taiclet; and Maersk chief Vincent Clerc.
A stand-out among the broader list of speakers is world and Dakar rally star Carlos Sainz senior, who will definitely have a unique perspective on the Velocity theme as he discusses sustainability in keynote three on Monday (27 February).
Diversity4Tech also returns, demonstrating the advantages of our differences. Highlights include a dedicated summit, roundtable, GLOMO Award and presence at the 4YFN startup show.
And of course it wouldn’t be MWC without some major gadget launches. Details of launch events were still coming in at time of press, but Honor has confirmed the unveiling of its latest dual flagship line-up, HONOR Magic Vs and HONOR Magic5 Series. TCL Communications promises new smartphones, tablets, laptops, AR/VR devices as well as new concept phones. And network giant Nokia is expected to announce big news on the Sunday of MWC.
Taking a break
MWC’s famed networking events are back for those looking to enjoy some downtime, including Beat Barcelona, the official MWC and 4YFN after-work ‘Place to B’ for networking and entertainment. Beat Barcelona is located in the Outdoor Terrace at the North Entrance. And ‘Meet & Eat L’ Hospitalet’ has since 2014 shared a look at the local Barcelona gastronomy and culture through the partnership between MWC and L’Hospitalet City Council – you'll find that just a short walk from the South Entrance.
Life through a lens
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Mobile World Live team will be out in full force, bringing you all the latest news, TV interviews with leading industry figures and all the action from the keynote sessions and showfloor. Watch all the action on the big screens around the venue or check www.mobileworldlive.com throughout the event for all the breaking news from MWC23.