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CES (Las Vegas), Sets The Stage for MWC 2023

CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show, held regularly in Las Vegas; and if there was one thing last month’s CES showed, the world revolves around mobile. Not just consumer electronics.  Case in point: John Deere, whose fully autonomous tractor was a CES 2023 Innovation Award winner in the Vehicle Tech & Advanced Mobility category. It’s also the fourth year in a row that CES organizers gave John Deere an Innovation Award for agricultural equipment that requires mobile connectivity to maximize efficiency, productivity and reliability.

And this month’s MWC will once again demonstrate why connectivity is front and center of almost every aspect of life. This year’s event will be all the more special for operators – and not just because attendance numbers are said to soar after the Covid-19 pandemic. Mobile operators are wondering how to pay  off the billions of euros, dollars and yen they’ve each spent on new spectrum and infrastructure for 5G. Emerging B2B IoT markets such as smart agriculture and Industry 4.0 factory automation are major new revenue opportunities. Some of those applications will use private 5G networks, such as the one that John Deere announced in 2020 for its own factories. At CES 2023, private 5G announcements included the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s partnership with PEGATRON on energy-saving O-RANs for markets such as smart manufacturing. Their announcement is particularly noteworthy because it’s also an example of how vendors are working to make private and public 5G networks  meet their owners’ ESG goals.

 

B2B IoT also is an opportunity for operators to reduce their reliance on the saturated, hyper-competitive and fickle consumer market. For example, roughly 97% of Americans own a mobile phone, with comparable penetration in other developed and developing countries. Although consumers are steadily upgrading to 5G models, they’re not necessarily paying more for the higher speeds. The consumer market is so competitive that everyone from Tier 1 incumbents to greenfield MVNOs has limited pricing power, so most 5G plans are priced the same as 4G.

 

To wring more revenue out of each consumer, operators need business partners to upsell them on products and services that require mobile broadband. Hence the CES announcements around connected vehicles, such as Qualcomm teaming with Salesforce to “help automakers deliver immersive and personalized experiences that use comprehensive vehicle and driver data, including fast or real-time alerts, specific offers, and predictive services, such as preventative maintenance alerts and on-demand feature upgrades. This new platform will be intended to also give automakers the tools to customize service offerings for each user, and then deploy these offerings across all vehicles to build a fleet of dynamically configurable, software-defined vehicles (SDVs).”

Security and Traffic Management are Key for Unlocking New Opportunities   

One aspect that consumer and B2B applications have in common is the need for data security and privacy. Meeting this need is more challenging than ever because 5G is still a new technology for most operators, so there’s a steep learning curve that can distract attention from vulnerabilities. 5G also is much more complex than previous mobile generations, so there are more attack surfaces and vectors. Another common need is the ability to deftly manage all of the new traffic that B2B devices will send and receive. One of the 5G New Radio (NR) standard’s major feature sets is Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC), which enables networks to support up to 1 million devices per square kilometer.

A public or private network operator will need to be able to ensure that each IoT device gets the right amount of bandwidth, prioritization and QoS. For example, in a smart factory, the IoT sensors and controllers in industrial robots and automated material handlers will have vastly different traffic patterns and QoS requirements than the employee smartphones and HD surveillance cameras connected to the same 5G network.

To learn more about how Enea is helping mobile operators at MWC 2023, visit https://info.enea.com/mwc-barcelona-2023

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