Once again, 5G will be top of mind for attendees at MWC19 Los Angeles this month. But, with early deployments finally on the roll in the US and across the globe, the focus is set to shift from discussions about standards to new use cases bringing the technology to life.

Los Angeles sits at the heart of the US entertainment industry, making it the perfect venue for an in-depth dive into the intersection of connectivity and content.

Indeed, executives from media companies including Viacom, Warner Brothers, Refinery29 and the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission will feature prominently on the keynote stage to tackle this very idea, speaking alongside leaders from GSMA, CTIA, Orange, Intel, Nokia, Sprint and Verizon, among others.

Reed Peterson, GSMA’s head of MWC Los Angeles, said the increased presence comes as the media and entertainment crowd begins to see how connectivity is impacting their industry and the potential of new mobile-enabled technologies such as VR and AR.

Both Peterson and Lynn McMahon, Accenture’s Media and Entertainment lead for North America, noted gaming is likely to star as a prime example of the new revenue opportunities 5G can enable for content creators and operators alike.

McMahon said gaming offers the potential for “exponential growth,” adding unlocking new revenue opportunities in the segment should be relatively easily since “the business model is already in place and consumers are used to, and willing to, subscribe and pay for content”.

Peterson also pointed to gaming as a bellwether and catalyst of sorts for future applications in other segments.

“What usually happens is you see technologies come into gaming, and then those same technologies end up expanding to other industries. So, for instance, what starts as a pretty cool concept in peer-to-peer playing platforms end up being taken into the healthcare industry or automotive and manufacturing.”

The event will also showcase the growing role of AI, which McMahon noted will be a critical tool for managing consumer-facing experiences, as well as networks and back end operations.

Nvidia will kick things off with a pre-show keynote on Monday 21 October, with CEO Jensen Huang taking the stage to discuss how AI, machine learning, edge computing and other technologies are transforming the industry.

Conference sessions will also tackle the topic once the show begins, and the GSMA is set to host the first Applied AI Forum and Global AI Challenge in partnership with STC, Telenor, Telus, the Alan Turing Institute and Turkcell. The Forum will shed light on new AI lessons and breakthroughs, and stir debate about how the technology can be applied across the telecoms ecosystem.

Additionally, the US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) will hold the finale of its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) Championship at the show, highlighting how AI can be used to more efficiently manage limited spectrum resources while boosting network performance. A total of ten teams will square off to win nearly $4 million in prizes.

Peterson added the US Department of Defence (DoD) will make a mystery special announcement immediately following the morning keynote on Wednesday (23 October). While he declined to provide details, it’s likely to have something to do with 5G, given the venue and the DoD’s recent designation of the technology as a “major initiative”. We’ll have to wait and see.

Subtle stars
Beyond 5G and AI, key conference tracks this year will cover policy, IoT, security and content. GSMA will also host a Telco Cloud Summit, 5G Security Summit and a Connected Vehicle Summit.

While it doesn’t have a track of its own, GSMA Intelligence head Peter Jarich tipped the topic of private networks to be “the sleeper story of the show”, noting it fits perfectly into the industry’s focus on serving vertical segments, creating new value, edge networking and spectrum innovation.

“Almost all of the market’s most important topics are captured in the discussion of private wireless and we’re already seeing them executed on in the US, making MWC Los Angeles the right place to talk about them,” he said.

On tap outside the main conference are robust programmes from the Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo), 4 Years From Now (4YFN) and Women4Tech.

Peterson said YoMo will include between 14,000 and 15,000 children from the Los Angeles area, who will be offered 1,500 hours of science and technology content from 100 showcase partners.

He added around 150 companies will participate in the 4YFN programme, vying for the attention of investors on site representing $1.5 billion in potential funding.

Peterson highlighted the connection between YoMo and 4YFN, noting introducing students to science and technology at a young age could set them on the path to someday participate in the 4YFN programme as start-up founders, and eventually make their way to the main keynote stage.

“It’s a phenomenal story,” he said.

All told, the GSMA expects 22,000 to 23,000 attendees at this year’s show, with around 800 exhibitors.

Naturally, Mobile World Live will be bringing you in-depth coverage from the show, livestreaming all the keynotes and plastering our website with top news stories and highlights reels. This is one you won’t want to miss!

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.