Today’s opening keynote at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles (MWCLA) focused on intelligent connectivity and its impacts on the enterprise and society. However, organizations must recognize and prepare for potential challenges intelligent connectivity brings.

“We are in another industrial revolution,” said Mats Granryd, director general of GSMA, addressing MWCLA attendees at the opening keynote on Tuesday.

SEE: 5G mobile networks: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Granryd defined intelligent connectivity as a confluence of four revolutionary technologies, including 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and big data. These aspects of intelligent connectivity are leading this industrial revolution, according to Granryd.

With AI’s digital personal assistants, IoT’s influence on driverless cars, and big data’s presence in healthcare, intelligent connectivity is widespread and impactful, Granryd said. However, 5G is where the most movement is happening, with low latency and 100 times faster speeds than 4G.

For 5G and intelligent connectivity to be successful, “the industry needs a harmonized spectrum, industry consolidation, an even playing field, and privacy and data protection,” Granryd said. He explained that this success is reliant on the enterprise and society.

Granryd highlighted the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, urging listeners to not only recognize these goals, but realize that intelligent connectivity can help reduce environmental impacts and harmful carbon emissions.

The big challenges

While intelligent connectivity clearly has a bevy of potential benefits, the technology also presents its own challenges, said keynote speaker Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of GSMA Orange Group.

Richard outlined the following three challenges on the road to 5G:

1. Loss of trust in global supply chains

The mobile industry has invested $2.7 trillion in capital expenditures, while offering lower prices for customers. However, market restrictions and technical fragmentation could affect the interoperability of suppliers, causing a lack of trust in those suppliers to deliver.

2. Loss of trust in protection of our digital lives

With security issues permeating the mobile world, consumers fear exploitation and manipulation by big business. This fear can be a huge barrier to growth, as consumers may be skeptical to adopt new, unfamiliar tech.

3. Loss of trust in business’ ability to deliver substantial growth for all

With more than 7 billion individuals covered by a mobile network, people are increasingly using mobile devices. Suppliers must remember to deliver value to all people, not just certain demographics or audiences.

“Despite the challenges, I see a better future that lies ahead with the huge transformation in front of us,” Richard said. “Our responsible leadership of the industry can make a difference.”

The 5G movement

Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA president and CEO, brought US Cellular president Ken Meyers and FCC chairman Ajit Pai to the stage, discussing 5G progress and projects.

In an attempt to bring 5G to more people, Meyers said US Cellular is rolling out 5G in mid- and small-sized Wisconsin and Iowa cities. As 5G moves “faster than any other G,” these smaller locations should and can benefit from the technology, he said.

“5G is moving faster than ever before because this industry has been phenomenally successful every time it made a technology change,” Meyers said. “The 5G industry has created an ecosystem around it with people waiting to leverage the technology. Competition is also driving movement.”

Meyers emphasised the need for mid-band and high-bandwidth spectrums around the country. People often overlook the rural use cases for 5G spectrums, but farmers and ranchers are also using IoT, which present a very real and significant use case, he said.

When it comes to delivering these bandwidth spectrums, “We have to move as quickly as we can,” Pai said. He referenced many high-band auctions expected to happen this year, with mid- band auctions planned for next year.

Closing the keynote, Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom took the stage, highlighting the impact of intelligent connectivity on mobile communications.

With 75% of videos watched on mobile devices, the mobile TV era is upon us, Bakish said. “The time for premium mobile video is now, with all the enablers in place to build a valuable mobile video ecosystem,” he said. “We don’t have to wait for 5G to do so. These enablers include connectivity, devices, and content, which are already in place.”

However, the true potential of mobile video can only be achieved through the partnerships of mobile network operators and entertainment companies, Bakish said.

“The time to get involved is now,” Bakish said. With carriers, there is connectivity; subscribers have the devices; all that is needed is content. Bakish used Viacom’s recent partnership with CBS as an example, as ViacomCBS will have an annual content spend of $13 billion.

Whether applied to entertainment, marketing, creative, distribution, advertising, or manufacturing, intelligent connectivity will drive the modern tech world. With consumers ready to use the technology, the responsibility falls on suppliers to develop and execute the intelligent technologies in an intelligent way.

Editor’s note: CBS is the parent company of TechRepublic.

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