MWC16: IoT and 5G rule headlines, as virtual reality makes a splash

The number of visitor numbers braving public transport strikes and keynotes by Mark Zuckerberg at Mobile World Congress this year exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever, according to official statistics released by the GSMA after the event closed its doors on Thursday.

That's a 6 per cent increase on last year, with visitors from 204 countries converging on the eight halls of the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona. If you want other stats, there were more than 2,200 exhibiting companies on 110,000 net square metres of exhibition and hospitality space, and more than 3,600 international media and industry analysts in attendance.

As we predicted, the IoT and 5G dominated the headlines this week -- which was certainly reflected by the stories published by the various Fierce publications out in force.

For example, FierceWireless:Europe highlighted how operators from different regions are racing to be first to launch 5G, rejecting the notion that they are trailing U.S. and Asian operators.

At the same time, Adrian Scrase, CTO of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), told us he was cautious on the ambitious launch dates being touted by operators including Verizon Wireless in the U.S and NTT Docomo in Japan.

In terms of IoT, SEAT and Accenture highlighted the place that the connected car has in the broader IoT arena, while Deutsche Telekom partnered with SK Telecom on 5G and IoT and TIM teamed with Huawei to accelerate the development of narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).

For many attendees, virtual reality devices and technology were among the biggest highlights this year. As sister publication FierceWireless noted, 5G, IoT and VR were such dominant themes that it almost seemed they were "trying to drown out more pressing issues", including toll-free data; a third option to Apple iOS and Android; Passport roaming; interoperability; and Wi-Fi calling -- plus much, much more.

The time is now to absorb and contemplate what we have seen and heard in the past week. Not to mention get a little sleep. Recover well.--Anne