Thousands gathered this week at Mobile World Congress 2022 at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona to hear the latest advancements in 5G and mobile technologies that power customer experiences in a growing virtual world, or as some call it, the metaverse.

Mobile World Congress, or MWC Barcelona 2022, is hosted by GSMA, a global organization that claims to unify the mobile ecosystem to “discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change.”

Here are some highlights from the four-day event that concludes today. Follow more developments on Twitter at #MWC22.

5G Connections to Hit 2B in Three Years

Need any more evidence of 5G’s growth? The GSMA reported this week 5G connections will surpass 1 billion in 2022 and 2 billion by 2025. By the end of 2025, 5G will represent one in five of total mobile connections. Who will have access to 5G networks by then? About 40% of people will live in an area with access to 5G.

5G puts mobile marketing in the spotlight. Marketers are capturing these opportunities in several ways, including:

  • Mobile commerce (mcommerce) and social commerce
  • Mobile wallets and contactless payments for onsite and offsite shopping
  • Driving real-time, in-store conversions with m-coupons, geotargeting and geofencing
  • Customer service and problem resolution — both automated and human
  • Interactive marketing, from AR experiences to apps and in-game engagement
  • Diverse smartphone-enabled wearables

"5G accounts for a much larger share of global mobile connections than 3G or 4G did at the same point in their lifecycles,” Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer of GSMA, said this week.

“Momentum has been boosted by factors including innovative plans, video streaming services, rising 5G handset sales and network coverage expansions. In addition, the launch of 5G services in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa over the last year means that the technology is now available in every region of the world, so we are set to see more growth and more transformation for services."

GSMA reported network capability initiatives that support consumer and enterprise use cases across 5G, including:

  • 5G utilization of multiple sub-3GHz spectrum bands
  • 5G mmWave
  • 5G Advanced
  • Private Networks

“5G collects and shares data at speed while efficiently managing volume,” Sinclair wrote in a blog post this week. "This is ideal for creating an urban ecosystem that better manages disasters and accidents, moves towards a cleaner environment, is increasingly intelligent and reactive and fosters economic prosperity, health and welfare.”

Related Article: What to Expect at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2022

Where Are Service Providers Focusing in 2022?

Dubber Corporation Limited launched the results of a commissioned research study by Cavell Group on service providers trends in 2022.

Researchers noted the impact of service providers on the current state of work: the movement to hybrid strategies, the shuffle between full-time remote-working and unpredictable in-person work programs. “Service providers will continue to adapt to the dramatic changes in the workforce behavior patterns that emerged in the global pandemic and will continue into 2022,” according to researchers. 

These trends on service providers are also affecting the way brands communicate with customers in contact centers and other environments.

The report found:

  • Unified communications and more communication channels impact service providers’ strategic planning and force them to create new revenue streams
  • Distributed video, Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS), Contact Center as a Service and CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) are in high demand
  • Competition with hyper-scalers and Over the Top (OTT) providers will increase this year
  • Service providers will beef up offerings to help enterprises in the areas of compliance, security, governance, ransomware and risk mitigation
  • Service providers will enhance offerings in data, voice data and other analytics services

"The first wave of the global pandemic rapidly accelerated unified communications and mobile, changing the service provider landscape materially,” said Matthew Townend, executive director for the Cavell Group.

“The second wave will not be the same, with enterprises looking to bolster solutions deployed in the first with greater security and compliance; adapt to hybrid working as a permanent way of working; and secure greater intelligence and compliance from content. AI and automation based on conversational data are new frontiers for service providers and represent a significant opportunity to improve revenue, differentiation and retention."

Related Article: 2 Companies Share Their Hybrid Work Models for 2021

Where Digital Empowers Humanitarianism

Marketers and customer experience professionals no doubt understand the power of technology in building customer experiences. But the power of tech also extends to goodwill on a global stage. Look no further than the crisis in Ukraine this week to see how digital can enable humanitarian efforts as millions across the world look to help citizens of war-torn Ukraine.

Digital humanitarianism continued this week at MWC as the UK committed about $20.7 million more to the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian (M4H) Innovation Programme. That doubles the total amount the European country has given to the M4H program since 2017.

The goal of the program? Deliver mobile and digital humanitarian assistance to those most in need, according to the GSMA. Millions of people still face displacement and hunger crises, and the GSMA M4H program offers assistance with life-enhancing and lifesaving mobile-enabled services.

Learning Opportunities

The M4H Programme has helped:

  • 200,000 Rwandan refugees and 500,000 people from marginalized groups to get better access to humanitarian cash and voucher assistance via mobile money
  • Provide communities in Haiti with information to help them prepare for and respond to extreme weather events
  • Develop the digital ecosystem in Ethiopia, Burundi and Nigeria, supporting mobile-enabled cash distribution
  • Reach parents and caregivers of Syrian children affected by displacement and conflict with digital, physio-social support

XR Is Simply Reality Today

Are you a marketer or customer experience professional on the XR Train? You may consider purchasing a ticket. Whatever you call it – metaverse, reality of a new reality, etc. – the Extended Reality (XR) market will generate $1.5 trillion in GDP by 2030, which is roughly equivalent to the current 5G market, according to Huawei Carrier officials. 

Philip Song, Chief Marketing Officer for Huawei Carrier, said in a keynote this week the cost of XR devices is getting more affordable (under $300 in some cases). The user experience opportunities are growing, becoming more secure and extending development opportunities: the new OPEN XR standard is now supported by many hardware, platform and engine companies, according to Song.

Carriers in South Korea, Thailand and China have led the deployment of VR/AR services. They've also led the way in selecting industries, setting business models and developing capabilities, according to Song.

Huawei's Cloud XR service is one example of XR Reality enablement. It includes multiple cloud-based capabilities like large-scale 3D mapping, all-scenario adaptive spatial computing and digital human rendering with precision hair models that allow for up to 100,000 strands of hair, according to Song.

Related Article: Why the Future Lies in Digital Experience Orchestration, Not Management

Cisco Partners on Promise of Private 5G for Enterprises

In other tech vendor news to watch out of Mobile World Congress, Cisco announced plans for its Cisco Private 5G together with partners. Officials said it will support productivity for enterprises with IoT adoption.

In short, the corporation is supporting the combination of Wi-Fi, 5G and IoT to power enterprises in efforts to connect physical operations with information systems and leverage analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning (ML).

"Cisco has an unbiased wireless strategy for the future of hybrid work. 5G must work with Wi-Fi and existing IT environments to make digital transformation easy," said Jonathan Davidson, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, at Cisco.

"Businesses continuing their digitization strategies using IoT, analytics and automation will create significant competitive advantages in value, sustainability, efficiency and agility. Working together with our global partners to enable those outcomes with Cisco Private 5G is our unique value proposition to the enterprise."

Advancements in 3D Models, People Tracking

Other tech innovations at Mobile World Congress focused on 3D models motion tracking, environment tracking, body tracking and face tracking.

HMS Core featured innovations in graphics and video, 3D product display, and gaming, including:

  • 3D Modeling Kit: Object images shot from different angles using an RGB-camera phone into 3D models
  • AR Engine: Basic AR capabilities such as motion tracking, environment tracking, body tracking and face tracking
  • Computer Graphics (CG) Kit: Comes with the Volumetric Fog plugin to produce fog with real-time interactive lighting
  • Scene Kit: Ray tracing plugin that simulates reflections on lake water
  • AR Measure from Huawei: Integrates AR Engine to measure the length and area of an object and height of the human body, as well as the volume of a cube

The provider plans to build more innovative and open solutions, facilitating app development, improving app innovation and operations and supporting an all-connected app ecosystem.