If I had to cite one word that featured in a number of presentations at the NGMN Alliance's industry event this week on 5G, it would be "slice". Not the most technical of terms it has to be said, but it cropped up time and time again as operators and vendors sought to explain how future mobile networks would be designed to cope with the demands of the "5G era" after 2020.
Our latest special report looks at LTE developments in Africa in order to gain some insights into progress so far, and what some of the players are planning to do in the coming months.
Apple is extremely adept at generating massive hype ahead of a new device launch. The company sends out teaser invitations to journalists that merely hint at what might lie ahead ("spring forward", in the case of the Apple Watch launch), and then sits back and waits as anticipation builds, and column inches grow. Who needs a marketing budget when you have that kind of power--or a presence at Mobile World Congress, for that matter?
If you thought it seemed busier at MWC this year you were right. The official figures from the GSMA indicate that there were over 93,000 attendees from 200 countries. That compares with 85,000 attendees in 2014.
My favourite week in the mobile industry trade fair calendar is rapidly approaching. Yes, I am talking about Mobile World Congress in Barcelona--the show that has ballooned from a modest event in Cannes to a rather bloated celebration of anything that has the remotest connection to mobile or wireless technology (including smart toothbrushes with Bluetooth for optimal brushing!).
France has been a highly interesting market to watch since January 2012, when enfant terrible Free Mobile launched its low-cost mobile plans and changed competition on the mobile market forever. Since then we have seen the emergence of new brands such as Sosh and a price war that continues to have repercussions for all market players.
Three UK remains alone in defending a mobile-only strategy, continuing to question the appetite of UK consumers for so-called quadruple-play services. While some believe that mobile-only is no longer a viable approach and see converged offerings of fixed and mobile services as the way forward, it must not be forgotten that a merger of Three and O2 would create the UK's largest mobile operator by subscribers (31.5 million).
Quad-play or multi-play strategies got another airing this week, as one operator hailed its success in bundling fixed, mobile and TV services together and another raised doubts again over the appetite that consumers are likely to have for such service bundles.
If BT succeeds in its bid to acquire EE, one thing it won't be doing is bringing the Orange and T-Mobile brands back to life in the UK: according to the Financial Times, BT has no interest in rekindling the two former brands as it intends to focus on driving 4G data services, for which EE is of course famous.
The Spice Girls may have waxed lyrical about two becoming one, but in Europe's mobile market many operators would be happy if four just became three. Indeed, the buzz around consolidation refuses to die down as we move further into 2015, and operators continue to believe that consolidation is necessary for their future survival.