5G moves into high gear at MWC 2016, but IoT will also be top of mind

Sue Marek

If you are heading to Barcelona, Spain, this weekend to attend the Mobile World Congress 2016 conference, be prepared for a 5G fest.

Operators from all across the globe are jockeying for a lead in the 5G game by announcing upcoming trials and collaborations. Vendors are conducting 5G demos and talking about their 5G roadmaps. And everyone is trying to figure out the best way to prepare for 5G while at the same time still monetizing their current investments in LTE. "I think there are a lot of companies looking to establish tech leadership and thought leadership roles. And those are the ones pushing 5G," said Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director of mobile broadband opportunities at Strategy Analytics. "It's good to see competition."

But 5G won't be the only hot topic in Barcelona this year. According to Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, the Internet of Things will continue to dominate discussions. The GSMA is once again hosting the Innovation City on the show floor where both operators and vendors will collaborate to showcase the latest smart city devices and projects. One of O'Hara's favorites is a bike light that is connected to your phone that automatically turns on when it starts to get dark and will even alert you if your bike is stolen.

Look for connected cars to also be a big draw on the show floor and the keynote sessions. Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor Co., will be part of a keynote session Monday that talks about the "Connected Life."  And if speed is your thing, check out Qualcomm and its keynote presentation with the Mercedes Petronas Formula One Team on Tuesday evening.

If you're a fan of Facebook's high-profile CEO Mark Zuckerberg, you're in luck.  Zuckerberg will return to the Mobile World Congress stage for the third year in a row with a keynote presentation Monday evening. But don't expect a repeat of last year's discussion of Internet.org, his company's initiative to get wireless operators to bring the Internet to developing countries. O'Hara said that Zuckerberg has promised to break some news at this show.

Not surprising, the GSMA is expected strong attendance at MWC this year. Show organizers are hoping to top 95,000 this year, but O'Hara is bullish that the show attendance might even reach 100,000.

Perhaps the most exciting addition to this year's Mobile World Congress is the direct subway line, L9, from the airport to the Fira Gran Via. The city of Barcelona expanded the subway just so that delegates to the conference could have a much more streamlined commute. In the past, delegates had to juggle a combination of shuttles, buses and trains just to get from the airport or downtown Barcelona to the convention hall.

Fierce itself will be hosting three events at the show:

As always, the Fierce team will be out in full force at Mobile World Congress, bringing you all the latest news and updates. FierceWireless Editor Colin Gibbs, FierceTelecom Editor Sean Buckley, Executive Editor Mike Dano and I will be providing up-to-the-minute coverage at FierceWireless,  FierceWireless:Europe, FierceTelecom and FierceWirelessTech. --Sue

P.S. If you want a great way to see Barcelona and stay in shape during Mobile World Congress, check out these running routes from FierceWireless contributor (and avid runner) Mark Lowenstein.

5G moves into high gear at MWC 2016, but IoT will also be top of mind

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