Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018: what it takes to create a better future

As usual during the month of February, Barcelona turned into the world largest tech hub for a week, gathering more than 100,000 of the industry’s top innovators in mobile connectivity. Orange was indeed amongst the 2,400 exhibitors to showcase what the future holds, with, among other things, the new capabilities offered by the 5G network and the innovative services relying on artificial intelligence.

With the aim of «creating a better future», this year’s edition offered the opportunity to show notably to several Members of the European Parliament cutting-edge mobile innovations while stressing again the need to reform the telecoms regulation in order to make Europe a leader of next generation connectivity.

Showcasing the promises of artificial intelligence and 5G

As an introduction to what our future households could look like, the representatives from the European Parliament have been introduced to ‘Djingo at Home’, a multi-service virtual assistant co-created by Orange and German operator Deutsche Telekom. The smart speaker, showcased on the Orange stand, enables users to voice-control a wide range of services such as music, Video On Demand or shopping platforms.

Another use case still under development displayed during this Mobile World Congress was the connected mirror, providing, with the help of both Djingo and facial recognition technology, a personalised interactive experience. All this only represents a sneak preview of what Djingo will be capable of, given that it learns continuously and can easily upgrade itself.

Another key feature of this 2018 edition is that you could not walk in the exhibition halls without stumbling upon a reference to 5G. Orange proposed to its visitors a 360° live streaming Virtual Reality experience, enabled by a 5G network which had been specifically deployed. By watching remotely the stunning panoramic view from Barcelona’s famous cable car, the visitors have experienced the high-speed and low-latency of 5G. But the 5G network holds many more promises: it will for instance enable smart mobility, connect industries and enhance medical services.

Keeping up with these great promises: the need for a revised regulatory framework

All these great services require in parallel a reform of the existing telecoms regulation. For instance, to guarantee a timely deployment of 5G, the spectrum allocation process along with the investment incentives, need to be improved in the EU. So far, the path which the EU seems likely to follow is uncertain: the last mile discussions between the co-legislators on the European Electronic Communications Code (the Code) could end up with the EU lagging more and more behind Asia and North America.

5G, discussion on the Code as well as on the implementation of net neutrality Regulation haven been the main topics discussed in various fora notably gathering on one hand Vice President Commissioner Andrus Ansip, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and CEOs of the mobile network operators, including Stéphane Richard, and on the other hand the heads of National Regulatory Authorities and senior representatives of the telecoms industry.

The importance of the MWC has also been well understood by startups representatives, with more than 600 startups being officially represented. Some startups supported by Orange such as Arabot (AI-enabled chat bot in Arabic) or GreenWaves Technologies (processors for the IoT) were able to benefit from our stand and reach out to a greater audience.

Having such an opportunity to exchange and find partners to co-innovate is key to build the connectivity of the future, and ultimately - as recalled by the motto chosen this year by the organisers - to create a better future.