With Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona just days away, we’re taking a closer look at which trends and products are going to run the show this year.



New flagship phones and 5G on the horizon

Most tech enthusiasts will be looking to this year’s MWC to get a glimpse at the coming generation of flagship smartphones. Samsung took over centerstage leading up to the event by announcing that the launch event for their Galaxy S9 line of phones will take place on February 25th in Barcelona. Other well-known manufacturers are presenting their coming devices to some hype as well, but chances are good the S9 will dominate mainstream tech news surrounding MWC. Read more in the preview write-up at tom’s guide.

While the actual implementation of 5G on a broader scale might still be several years down the line, substantial announcements regarding upcoming infrastructure changes in preparation for the new standard are expected. Following the publication of their vision for 5G by IEEE back in May 2014, a common standard could not yet be finalized. As devices grow more powerful and high quality rich media on mobile devices are a common use case, it’s only logical that networks need to make a transition to the next level as well. The possibilities of high performance devices and networks being available to a mass market are exciting and it will be interesting to get a glimpse at what the future might look like.


AI and the connected home

There is no escaping talk about artificial intelligence these days, if one mingles in the tech business. Rightfully so too, as recent progress in the field has been quite astounding. AI forms the basis behind increasingly popular virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. Connected homes, where anything from lighting, doors or even the fridge can be controlled remotely, are part of the present not a distant future. In light of these developments, it seems only natural for companies in the telco sector to get onboard with this trend. After all, telecom operators and their suppliers provide the infrastructure upon which the communication between the connected devices rests. As service providers, they form the first contact for customers as they look for guidance in the process of the individual digital transformation within their homes. This role will be defining for CSPs going forward - for telcos and their suppliers alike.


Digital inclusion as a coming challenge

With big infrastructure changes imminent, the challenge of digital inclusion is becoming more pressing, as discrepancies between countries and regions regarding the availability of high-quality broadband create additional divides. But the divide is not just regional, the disparities reflect in the demography as well, particularly with underrepresented groups like women or refugees. The challenge lies in creating a universally inclusive digital society and requires solid strategies from industry leaders and policymakers alike. MWC 2018 has several panels committed to discussing these issues.


How will these trends impact upon telco retail?

The retail sector has been going through a digital transformation process for a while now. Ecommerce becomes a more important factor, while customer demands regarding service levels in physical stores keep rising simultaneously. Even in the short run, AI and IoT technologies are poised to change the market by providing more individualized services and suggestions to customers exactly where they are. As phones and connection technologies keep advancing, customer expectations will continue to rise: Telecom operators are viewed as technology leaders and consumers look to them for advice, suggestions and guidance. As the digital transformation continues its path, CSPs will no longer be limited to their role as gatekeepers to the digital world. They rather need to reestablish themselves as enablers and advocates of an open digital environment for everyone. Before long, the most important way to keep customers engaged will be to create an authentic brand experience, which puts the customer first and provides real, valuable service.



Meet us in Barcelona

For several years now, the Mobile World Congress has been an amazing event for us at NTS Retail, as the entire industry – operators, vendors, suppliers and consumers alike – gets together to present ideas and products, which will shape the years to come. We can’t wait for this year’s iteration and are looking forward to countless fruitful exchanges of thought.

NTS Retail will be presenting at the Advantage Austria booth #B61 in hall 8.1. Care to learn about our vision for the future of telco commerce? Drop by or arrange a meeting!