The annual gathering that is Mobile World Congress (MWC) is upon us again. As always there will be the usual hype around 3 letter acronyms like NFV, SDN, SON, IoT and of course 5G (ok not a TLA). As I fine tune the Cisco Mobility strategy for my APAC region, I see these as just enablers, to get Service Providers (SP) where they need to be to be successful in a post 2020 or “5G” era.

As APAC SPs head to MWC they face real business challenges that need to be addressed this year, with new Innovation and Thought Leadership;

  • Demand: With the latest Cisco Visual Network Index (VNI) report for 2015 to 2020, we start to get a feel for what networks are up against. In APAC we can expect almost 6 billion connections as we head into the “Internet of Everything”, with >3 times connection speeds, creating 9 times more traffic then today. People tend to forget the “Data Tsunami” (a previous MWC buzz word) but the tide is still coming in.
  • Monetization: Erosion of traditional services to OTT. Time to stop seeing this as a threat, but instead an opportunity for collaboration and innovation, but how?
  • Profitability: TCO can’t be left to scale with traffic growth, or service complexity. Already OpEx/Revenue margins degrade every year, from around 60% in 2010 to 75% in 2015, according to GSMA Intelligence data for APAC MSPs. Yet the future is about OTT speed of innovation and heterogeneous access, concepts that give Operations Managers nightmares today.


Demand in the “5G” era: Cisco VNI APAC Mobile Traffic Forecast, 2015-2020

These will all be topics that solution partners, like Cisco, need to be ready to address, in real tangible ways and not just “slideware”.

The evolution to 5G is unlike the past Gs in Mobile; 2G digitalization, 3G bolting on Mobile Broadband, 4G an all IP-overlay… but 5G is being driven by so many diverse business requirements that it will be about creating a business platform, not another disparate network.

Cisco’s theme this MWC is “Transformation through Innovation”, a theme which is blended with collaboration from Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Ericsson & Jasper to name a few.

mwc booth

“Transformation Through Innovation”: Cisco MWC16

You’ll also see us continue to blur the lines between Telco and IT, Data Centre and Cloud. This is all about moving from networks to platforms, a breeding ground for innovation. Then bringing the right ecosystems to connect; consumers, enterprises, and vertical industries.

So this year, let’s not get caught-up in acronyms, but have more discussions about what we have to do now to create the Mobile business platforms of the future.


Andrew Mackay

Head of Mobile Solutions

Asia-Pacific Region