Published on 01 mars 2019 In: Trend
How does the 5G rollout progress? Are there any new indoor location technologies? What is the evolution of artificial intelligence? Discover the Mobile World Congress Barcelona´s 3 leading trends.
One of Europe's largest trade fairs dedicated to telecommunications and connected objects, called the Mobile World Congress Barcelona, has taken place from 25 till 28 February this year. This event, which brought together nearly 2,500 exhibitors from all over the world, succeeded to attract more than 100,000 visitors over 4 days. It obviously hosted telecommunications industry giants such as Samsung, Huawei, LG and Orange, but also featured many start-ups and SMEs from all over the world. This year, 90 French companies have gathered in order to represent the French Tech banner.
During the telecommunications world's High Mass, many trends have been identified and are currently emerging. The following trends have been the so-called highlights of this MWC 2019 edition:
5G is THE major trend seen on the MWC 2019! If you were there, you would not have missed it. All telecommunication providers announced the launch of this technology by 2020. Although regulatory authorities and governments are still in the process of discussing how to implement this new technology, operators are already ready for the auctions that will allocate frequencies to each of them.
5G technology relies on the use of significantly higher spectrum frequencies than in 4G technology. Today, 4G, like earlier technologies, uses frequency bands under 6GHz, while 5G, in contrast, uses a wider spectrum ranging from 30 up to 300 GHz, the so-called millimetre waves. These waves allow a much higher throughput, but have a much shorter span. 5G therefore relies on millimetre frequencies, but also on lower ones, in order to achieve a broader rollout.
Unlike 4G, 5G does operate through MIMO (Multi user Multiple Input Multiple Output) antennas, which act as directional headlights, for a precise orientation of the signal in one specific direction, instead of a multidirectional broadcast. These antennas enable to send the radio signal to users and devices when necessary, with the aim of reducing significantly the unnecessary waves around the users.
The improved rate of transmission of data is obviously the first highlight, but it resides above all the "low latency" of this transmission, decreasing from 10 meters to 1 meter, thus allowing the required real-time interactivity as an essential component of autonomous cars performance or enhanced reality.
In the IoT industry, 5G has been designed to connect countless objects whilst offering a high-level performance. Its low power consumption also enables connected objects to keep functioning for months or even years without any human intervention.
In France, 4G is still being rolled out in rural areas, while operators already talk about the arrival of 5G. Some of them even are beginning to test this technology in pilot cities as early as this year. Japan has announced its operational roll-out for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, so 5G should arrive in France at the same time. By the end of 2024, 5G is expected to cover 40% of the world's population, according to the OEM Ericsson.
In conclusion, 5G is not expected to be available immediately, but as always, operators anticipate future technologies many years in advance.
Among the MWC's leading trends, indoor location has become a major focus. As a reminder, the following is essential:
GPS has appeared as the geolocation market leader for many years, both in the corporate and private sectors, providing a geolocation accuracy of 10 to 5 metres.
However, today's users need more accuracy in terms of precision, especially when it comes to indoor applications. Here is the limit of GPS technology. New technologies have emerged in response to these needs.
Wirepas Mesh technical operation
In the era of 4.0 industry, economic players are seeking to rationalize and optimize manufacturing processes in their factories, especially in terms of equipment location and monitoring. It has become a priority to easily identify and localize objects.
You should remember that a reliable indoor location system relies on a combination of 3 components: hardware (beacons, sensors, etc.), data processing software and connectivity. In terms of indoor location, four major families of connectivity exist: WiFi, Ultra WideBand, Activce RFID and Bluetooth. The latter is the most popular, given its high level of development, both in terms of costs and in terms of performance.
Two emerging technologies in indoor localization are particularly noteworthy: mesh network technology and Angle of Arrival technology (AOA).
The Mesh protocol consists of a local area network (LAN), a wireless local area network (WLAN) or a virtual local area network (VLAN) associated to a decentralized connection based on nodes linked to each other inside of a "mesh ". This technology eliminates the need for a router, for an easier setup and thus reduced infrastructure costs.
Mesh technology makes it possible to achieve a very large communication coverage, as well as an indoor location accuracy of less than 10 meters.
AOA (Angle Of Arrival) technology in contrast, enables to optimize the arrival angle of the signals broadcasted by a mobile tag to at least 2 surrounding antennas, and thus makes it possible to obtain a real-time location (RTLS) with an accuracy of ten centimetres.
However, unlike Mesh, the infrastructure investment needed for implementing AOA technology is higher, due to the cost of dual antenna operating system.
These two indoor location technologies will undoubtedly go on developing and roll-out should take place in many projects in the coming year.
Another trend seen at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona is Artificial Intelligence (AI). In combination with connected objects, AI is developing and becoming more and more accurate and valuable.
The enthusiasm of the first few years has decreased over time, and artificial intelligence nowadays needs to adapt to consumers’ needs in order to provide them with real assistance. This is especially true in the industrial sector, where workers' tasks optimization is essential to avoid them wasting time on low added value tasks.
A study conducted by the Mckinsey Institute showed that manufacturers who have already implemented intelligent devices and systems have experienced a 3 to 15% margin increase. By 2035, AI is expected to increase business productivity by 40%, according to the French group Accenture.
Nevertheless, French companies have not yet reached the next level and some misconceptions persist. Such concerns such as the fear of having jobs replaced by Artificial Intelligence. However, since the development of AI in the industry is intended to enable workers to improve productivity and skills rather than replacing them, this perception is erroneous.
Although secondary sector companies have not entered this market yet, those in the telecommunications sector have already penetrated it.
As an example, Orange presented its virtual assistant, Djingo at the Mobile World Congress, able to interpret and respond to customers via mobile applications such as "Orange Bank".
According to Orange, an AI must meet certain criteria in order to be viable: it must be useful and suitable for many needs, it should use secure and reliable networks to avoid hacking, but above all, it shall be able to scan the environment to best meet its users' needs.
Meeting all these criteria requires a significant investment in terms of R&D, as well as a lot of flexibility in working processes, that is the reason why it is no wonder if start-ups have become the main players on today´s French AI market.
According to a study conducted by Tractica, the AI market is expected to reach $71 billion by 2024 against $200 million in 2015, and this year again; the Barcelona Mobile World Congress has been a very useful event for monitoring new trends and innovations. This allows the various actors (public and private) to have a global view of the telecommunications and connected devices industry.
Evolution of the Artificial Intelligence market in billions of dollars (Source: Tractica)
This year again, the Barcelona Mobile World Congress has been a very useful event for monitoring new trends and innovations. This allows the various actors (public and private) to have a global view of the telecommunications and connected devices industry.
Here are the 3 most important things to remember: the accuracy of 5G's technical improvements and the forecast of a deployment within a few years with many pilot cities already in the test phase. Then, the improvement of indoor location systems, which are increasingly popular among industrials, and finally, Artificial Intelligence representing a very promising but still underdeveloped market in France.
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