Stepping away from the abyss

MWC Review: The changing face of the mobile industry

It’s been over a decade since MWC (3GSM as was) said au revoir to the yacht parties of Cannes and another six since the circus got evicted from its original Spanish home in the centre of Barcelona and unceremoniously dumped at the barely finished Fira Gran Via where congress remains today. The move out of town wasn’t popular; we missed the fountain lined setting beneath the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, and mourned the loss of undoubtedly the most reliable meeting place in conference history, the CBOSS stand, after the Russian vendor and its lady draped exhibit was banned from the show for allegedly offering escorts to delegates.

Industry sentiment varies every year; 2015 felt flat, but 2016 was buzzing.

2016 Stats: 101,000 delegates from 204 countries/2200 Exhibitors/3 days of strikes/2 trillion Jamón baguettes & 8 florets of broccoli (table decoration in the Boqueria networking garden)

The one thing that is clear is mobile has moved from a vertical axis to a horizontal one.

And over the same timeframe, talent has been equally transient across the sector. For a long time operators suffered a brain drain to start-ups and OTT players. Recent consolidation across the vendor community, as the balance of power moved back to the larger OEMs, has seen many execs leave the space. Sales leaders who spent a career courting MNOs have left for broader enterprise leadership positions. And they have not looked back.

Operators are now fighting back.

There are some telcos calling for the regulation of OTT services (these are the same services that their own customers have adopted at an unprecedented rate and have reached a scale never seen before). But others are partnering with them.

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