5G, IoT and OTT: familiar acronyms expected to be among key themes at MWC2016

As pointed out by Ovum chief research officer Mark Newman, "gone are the days when you could predict -- with a fair degree of confidence -- what the top two or three trends were going to be at Mobile World Congress."

While analysts still expect the annual industry event in Barcelona to act as a showcase for new device launches -- including the increasingly pervasive wearables segment -- this is certainly far from the sole focus of the event.

Network evolutions will feature as always, of course. 5G has secured a firm role at the top of the agenda thanks to the growing efforts of operators and vendors across the globe to accelerate developments here. AT&T will be under the spotlight after recently announcing it planned to test 5G as early as 2016, while TeliaSonera and Ericsson said they will provide pre-commercial 5G services in Sweden and Estonia in 2018.

The Internet of Things as well as opportunities and threats from over-the-top (OTT) providers will also be among the main trends, reflecting the ongoing developments in both fields. In the area of IoT, emerging low power wide area (LPWA) network technologies will be under scrutiny, particularly narrow-band IoT (NB IoT), Sigfox and LoRa. In the OTT arena, video services are expected to feature heavily as operators seek the best strategy to deal with the impact that Netflix et al are having on their networks.

These are just some of the expected top themes: the sheer breadth of the event is perhaps best illustrated by the diversity of forecasts issued by analysts on what they expect to see. Such lists include virtual reality; regulation and M&A; privacy and security concerns; platform business models including NFV and SDN; connected cars and connected homes; the "vanishing SIM card" in the face of the new e-SIM specifications; semi-conductor developments; enterprise mobility; how to best monetise data; device security -- I could go on.

As usual, the FierceWireless:Europe and FierceWireless teams will be out in force in Barcelona to keep you up to date with all the news from the show.--Anne