Industry leaders at Mobile World Congress suggest smartphone connectivity is no longer front and center

Mobile World Congress (MWC) Los Angeles wrapped up this week. The telecommunications trade show brings together industry leaders, who often use the opportunity to present their respective visions for the future of the mobile industry. Here are a few stories from the show that stood out:

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  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai evangelized the 6 GHz band as a catalyst for innovation. Speaking on stage, Pai reiterated that keeping the 6 GHz bandwidth unlicensed would unlock entrepreneurial use cases, particularly in the realms of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), according to Wi-Fi Now. Pai often endorses a deregulatory approach, so his policy of keeping 6 GHz unlicensed has become a key talking point during his tenure as chairman. The new standard for bandwidth would enable Wi-Fi networks to handle heavier network traffic and offer faster connections.
  • Verizon announced a partnership with Corning to showcase the benefits of 5G-connected smart factories. Corning, which is already set to supply Verizon with over $1 billion worth of fiber to support its 5G network buildout, will use 5G to make a North Carolina fiber factory "smarter," according to Light Reading. In particular, Verizon and Corning will explore using 5G to add or improve quality assurance, supply chain tracking, and autonomous vehicles within Corning's factory. The project could help Verizon hone operational expertise and generate new use cases for 5G in factories. And it could help Corning increase its manufacturing efficiency while also stimulating demand for fiber by encouraging other factories to adopt 5G solutions.
  • Verizon and SAP expanded their collaboration to build out network edge services and functionality. The companies said they would develop edge applications for enterprise clients, particularly surrounding AR, blockchain, and machine learning. This builds on an agreement reached in 2018, in which SAP chose Verizon to connect its customer-facing cloud business.

These developments illustrate a new paradigm — smartphone connectivity is no longer front and center, as new technology has led to the proliferation of use cases spanning industries. New networking technologies, including 5G and the 6 GHz Wi-Fi band, are ushering in these new use cases, including IoT, VR, and more.

To create solutions for such a broad range of applications, networking and telecommunications companies must proactively seek a broad range of enterprise partners. MWC has shifted in accordance with this new paradigm: Kathrin Buvac, president and chief strategy officer of Nokia Enterprise, said of MWC Shanghai earlier this year, "60% of visitors who got badges were enterprise customers. Five years ago, that number would have been probably 80% or 90% carriers."

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