The three-day Mobile World Congress Shanghai drew in tens of thousands who heard about how 5G will be an enabler for every industry, why operators need more spectrum and how financial services will help drive mobile broadband adoption in developing markets.
In addition to the main conference, the event featured more than a dozen other GSMA and partner programmes, covering almost every conceivable mobile issue – from ‘Rock n’ Roll MVNO’ to the ‘Rise of the Smart Home in Asia’.
Here’s a look at some of the key discussions that didn’t make the headlines.
4G’s real impact
Chinese taxis drivers, like most around the world, have a tough life. They work 12 hours a day and often wait for hours in long queues at airports for a single fare. Taxi-hailing apps like Didi, Kuaidi and Uber allow them to be more efficient and boost their income by as much as 150 per cent, said China Mobile EVP Li Zhengmao.
An out-of-town friend used an app to link up with a person in the area going to the airport, and he was able to share a ride for just CNY6 ($1.00).
Getting along better
The dynamics between mobile network operators (MNOs) and MVNOs is starting to change as the latter move way from a pure focus on price, said Andy Xuan, Sprint’s sales director for Greater China.
MNOs now understand MNVOs can help them identify customers they couldn’t obtain on their own and keep them away from their competitors. The key to the change in the relationship is more flexible service packages.
Speaking at the MVNO Summit today, Xuan said the entry barriers are still very high in China, where there are 42 MVNOs that have just 7.5 million connections. The US has 250 MVNOs serving 28 million customers.
Bigger and bigger
China Mobile has built the largest 4G network in the world. At the end of June it had 940,000 4G base stations – that’s around half of the world’s total LTE base station rollout. It is adding 18 million new 4G connections a month and aims to sell 210 million 4G handsets this year. Over 1,000 4G models are available, and prices are as low as $50. 4G users consume twice as much data as its 3G users, the company said.
Adding value with user data
KDDI chairman Tadashi Onodera called on the industry to cooperate to develop a common privacy protection framework. He argued in his keynote on Wednesday that operators have an opportunity to use customer data to add value to services. But the critical issue is privacy and gaining the customer’s trust.
Japan has an advantage since almost 100 per cent of users are postpaid and must show a national ID and credit card when they sign a contract. Onodera said it is natural for them to think the operator is trustworthy.
But he said this is not something one company can do on its own. “We need common action at the industry level to work on a common framework for personal data services.”
Reaching rural Australia
Australia’s NBN Co, the state-owned fibre wholesale provider, is using TD-LTE to reach 270,000 premises, with 47,000 end-users connected to the network. One thousand new users are being added each week, said Paul Fletcher, Australian MP and parliamentary secretary to the minister of communications. Its target is to reach 600,000 premises in 2018.
Ovum recently found Australians connected to NBN’s fixed-wireless network have faster speeds and higher data allowances via the country’s retail service providers than compared to the performance of 21 overseas wireless broadband providers.