Femto. Two years ago, MWC saw femtocell solutions going commercial; integration partnerships were built, core network solutions were launched, reference designs introduced. Last year, enterprise femtocells were a major theme. This year? While Vodafone's success was on everyone's lips, the technology seemed to do little more than incrementally advance. Sure, picoChip must be given credit for its LTE reference design, but the remaining news wasn't really news, just a rehash of what we've been talking about for the last year: added user and data capacity, LTE investigations, added gateway and application work.
Packet Core. In the network, the packet core may have been one of the most exciting topics at MWC 2010. Right before the show, Cisco pulled the trigger on rebranding its Starent assets (ASR 5000) and Tellabs talked up the SmartCore 9100 acquired from WiChorus. At the show, Juniper took the wraps off its Project Falcon--including new EPC products. Did any of this come as a surprise? No. We all knew Cisco and Tellabs would do something with their packet core assets and that Juniper's Project Falcon would push it into the mobile packet core. The only real surprise was a lack of packet core news from players like Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson or NSN.
I've never viewed myself as "grumpy" or generally negative--I leave that to other analysts (you know who you are). So, despite looking at the networks news from MWC 2010 as rather yawn-worthy, I still see an encouraging theme: commercialization.
New LTE products weren't needed because initial launches and investigations are proceeding based on the current ones--with interop testing setting the stage for actual LTE revenues and services. Amazing femtocell innovations weren't needed because operators are finally beginning to move forward on services, against this backdrop, they might actually be a distraction. In the packet core, vendors might be eager to talk up their shiny new solutions, but the message we heard over and over is that product and performance claims are meaningless without real world benchmarks and testing--the results of which will drive purchase and deployment decisions.
To be sure, new products and breathtaking innovations are often critical for kicking an industry into gear. Yet, once the momentum builds behind it (be it femtocells or LTE or HSPA+), vendors and operators need to go "heads down" on turning it into a reality. Here, the 2010 edition of Mobile World Congress hit the right notes.
Peter Jarich is an analyst with Current Analysis.