Mobile Digest 2018: Day Two!

As we round out Day Two of MWC 2018 we are starting to see more from the rest of the mobile ecosystem beyond devices – but don’t worry there were a couple new phones of note!

The second day saw big players like AT&T, Samsung and ZTE speak about developments in 5G, AI and IoT. A highlight was at the final keynote of the show where the Chairman of the FCC and EU Commissioner discussed freeing up spectrum for 5G and the controversial decision to repeal net neutrality.

Here is your full roundup of news from Day Two and some food for thought…

Announcement round-up

Any crypto enthusiasts amongst us? This might be the phone of your dreams! Brazilian company Sikur has unveiled a phone with an encrypted cryptocurrency wallet built into its software. Usually a choice for businesses and governments, they believe this new addition will give the company a new consumer appeal, as the number of crypto-millionaires looking for safe places to store their fortunes increases.

In other device news, Land Rover announced a rugged addition to the Android family that can accompany you in extreme temperatures and salt water. While some were left questioning how many people need a phone that can sustain thermal shock, others were left pondering the absence of the expected Moto G6, but we were left assured it is coming soon.

There were also a number of reports on the now unavoidable trend of the disappearing headphone jack. Although some still sport the feature, the phones with big design overhauls – Sony XZ2, Sony XZ2 Compact and the Nokia 8 Sirocco – have gone wireless.

In other headphone news, Sony has announced its Xperia Ear Duo wireless earphones, which offer a “dual listening” experience that will allow users to combine their music with the important sounds from the outside world, like traffic, adding a pleasant hum to the soundtrack of our lives. This will also let us have conversations without our music becoming distracting… or is it the other way round…? And we wonder why they call us the distracted generation.

Food for thought

As expected, a great deal of Mobile World Congress consists of industry leaders discussing the future of mobile. This year, execs are highlighting the transformational capabilities mobile developments have on everyday lives, and we couldn’t agree more.

Next Gen 5G is here

Samsung and ZTE both declared plans to launch the first 5G powered devices in 2018. Samsung announced that its complete commercial Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) 5G solution has become the first to receive approval by the FCC. 5G pioneer ZTE said that it has devices such as smartphones and tablets already under development, stating that it is well prepared to help operators deploy 5G by the first half of next year. Huawei also announced its first 5G chip, which will be used for self-driving cars and smart homes.

Net neutrality shifts from “pre-emptive regulation to targeted enforcement”

After his CES no-show in January amid suspected death threats, Ajit Pai, the controversial Chairman of the FCC, defended his roll-back of net neutrality to a more amenable audience on Day One of MWC, insisting that “light-touch regulation” will spur innovation and investment in the wireless industry.

He also announced intentions to auction high frequency 28 gigahertz bands, freeing up the spectrum to allow carriers to deploy and expand their light-speed 5G networks. “The race to 5G is a sprint, not a marathon, and the proposed spectrum auctions will help ensure the United States remains at the forefront of this emerging technology,” said US House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Representative Marsha Blackburn in a joint statement.

Big Bang AI and IoT

Another hot topic was AI, with quite a few announcements partnered with the automotive industry. Mercedes-Benz once again stressed the importance of digital transformation and the focus at its MWC stand is clearly on incorporating Artificial Intelligence in its cars. AT&T had some automotive related news of its own with the announcement of a partnership with CarForce. Its aim is to use AI and IoT to help car dealerships, fleet managers and repair shops better manage car maintenance and predict car issues. Additionally, it announced that it is expanding its Internet of Things Fleet Management solutions portfolio as a full-service provider to meet the needs of small business, enterprise and government customers. To be able to manage all these IoT devices across multiple cellular and satellite networks, operators and regions, AT&T will provide a cloud-based platform called Multi-Network Connect.

Huawei also chimed in on the AI and IoT discussion, announcing its Intent-Driven Network, which is supposed to create a ‘digital twin’ of physical networking infrastructure. Perhaps a bit more shocking was Huawei’s Cheng Zhu theorising that there’s a Big Bang coming. Cheng Zhu said that the IoT industry is expected to experience major developments for networks based on the narrowband-IoT. Despite panellists noting that there are still challenges to address regarding cost, roaming, scalability, security and the simplification of devices and services – it does seem the ecosystem will keep growing, Big Bang or not!

And lastly, if you’re keen to practice some other languages, or you’re simply not a native English speaker, Google announced it will now support app development in seven more languages for Google Assistant. There will even be a bilingual feature soon.

That’s all for Day Two, folks! Stay tuned for Day Three tomorrow where we hope to bring you more innovative news and some of the coolest and wackiest headlines of the show thus far!