Next Generation Of Everything At MWC ’16

In our last blog, we looked back through the history of telecommunications specifically to the advent of SS7 technology in 1975 and how it accelerated the pace of innovation from decades to weeks/days. In this blog we’ll again look back a bit but only a week or so to the major news coming out of Mobile World Congress (MWC), the annual tradeshow of mobile operators, technology vendors, technophiles, and pundits.

In fact, we were honored to be a part of the largest gathering in the history of this event, surpassing 100,000 attendees for the first time. That’s a far cry from the very first event in Rome in 1990 (when it was called GSM World Congress) that attracted a mere few hundred visitors. MWC organizers expect an even bigger attendance next year so it’s probably not too soon to look into lodgings already. Air BnB might be a good option, though you’re likely to face stiff competition for space.

Agoraphobics needed to beware as it was elbow-to-elbow throughout the MWC venues again this year. (SOURCE: MWC)

Agoraphobics needed to beware as it was elbow-to-elbow throughout the MWC venues again this year. (Source: MWC)

Even amidst the throngs, we were pleased as punch that our big news at MWC stood out and drew more than its fair share of attention. That’s understandable whenever you have 23 operators and vendors agreeing to collaborate on anything that is 100 percent user-need driven based on actual use cases. Here’s actually how I phrased it to FierceTelecom’s Sean Buckley:

RIFT.io’s mission is to be able to make it easy to deploy a network service as it is to deploy any other cloud service and accelerate the adoption of SDN and NFV. It’s completely model-driven and adheres to everything we have contributed back to OSM so it’s OSM compliant management and orchestration.

But even we have to admit that the big news at MWC this year was the various progress reports on 5G (fifth generation) mobile technology that promises to boost network capacity by more than 10,000 compared to 4G/LTE. The reports are more than promising. AT&T announced that it will test commercial-grade 5G technology this summer. Verizon is claiming that it’ll actually be in deployment for its 5G networks by 2017, even though the company admits that there are a lot of kinks to work out. In general, the industry is expecting general availability of 5G technology and devices to be in the 2020 timeframe.

There are a number of truly advanced “killer apps” already in design for 5G networks. Big Data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) over 5G are almost too cliché to even mention. If you ask Facebook head honcho, VR will rule the day to take advantage of 5G’s 50X performance boost compared to LTE.

For us though, the really exciting 5G news out of MWC was the consensus among operators and vendors alike that NFV and SDN will play a foundational role in this next-gen network. Here’s why:

Any time that CSPs transition to newer generations of mobile networking, there is always the need to introduce new technologies, business models, and services designed to accommodate the various upgrades. In most cases, it is necessary to upgrade or change their infrastructure.

That was certainly the case with 4G/LTE as the industry evolved from TDM networks to all-IP versions, aka and, appropriately enough, Next-Generation Networks. As significant as this evolution was, it was still largely a hardware-to-hardware transition. The 5G evolution is revolutionary in that we’re moving to a software-defined, cloud-enabled infrastructure where management and orchestration will play an instrumental role.

In fact, the standards bodies are already looking at specific NFV MANO requirements as part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as it heads into the 5G wireless era. You can get an idea of how this might play out in the commercial world in mobile edge computing projects we’re working on with Brocade that was announced ahead of MWC.

We are excited about the next steps for us and the mobile world in general. We’ll make sure to share our progress on these pages as well as through our media outlets as events warrant. And you won’t even have to wait till next February in Barcelona for the news.