“Contrasts at the Mobile World Congress”


As I walked around the Mobile World Congress, at any given moment I would have the sensation that I was walking more through a medieval bazaar than a high-tech fair. The density of the people trying to move through the corridors of the halls was so high that at times it was almost impossible to take a step forward or backward. It’s a spectacular contrast of customs, with the most advanced technology being advertised every year in the most antiquated manner. Everyone goes to the market, as they have been doing for millennia. Beautiful hostesses and lots of Iberian ham, Rioja and cava can be found in every nook and cranny. Of course, there is also the human factor. Nothing facilitates business negotiations and networking better than meeting face to face and shaking hands—it’s easier than looking for information about a product in the mobile congress. Many expositors are happy to send you a link where you can download documents… forget the brochures and flyers. But of course when you simply download something on Google, you don’t feel the vibrations of the environment, the prevalent sensations of euphoria, or the considerable hangovers that occur, this year on Friday, March 1st.

Entering the fair was like entering into another planet. As a sense of apathetic despair stretched across the country, the fairground of the Mobile World Congress was full of life, even though at that time next year, a significant number of the companies these exhibitors represented will not exist. It is true that they have done their best, and so they deserve our applause. “Viva la vida.” Congratulations, you’ve come this far.

This is a mobile congress, in terms of radio solutions. But maybe a lot of optical fiber and a lot of transmission equipment have been sold that use this material. The bandwidth increase for data connections, the need to improve coverage in capacity as well as in density, and the new frequency bands that use 4G technology make the installation of many microcells and wi-fi access points (hotspots), connected to the switching center through optical fiber (FTTA -Fiber to the antenna) an absolute necessity. More mobility, more fixed networks. But instead of copper cables, we’ll use fiber ones, which weigh less and occupy less space. But we haven’t gotten rid of installing cables.

It is not a telephony congress any more; it is a congress of mobile multimedia communications, voice, data and video. Although the devices have much media coverage, they are not the important part—someone offered tablets for 50€. What are important are the applications, the information and its security. Regarding the devices, users can choose whatever they want (BYOD, Bring Your Own Device). The company will soon stop paying for mobile phones and laptops for its employees. Everybody will bring their own tablet, laptop or smartphone and connect to the network. The applications and data go to the cloud, public or private. The company will try to manage it through MDM (Mobile Device Management) tools; some MDM companies had stands as big as the Asian manufacturers’ of the most popular devices. The challenge is how to guarantee the protection of my data, which I can access from anywhere, and knowing where I can save it. The challenge is ensuring confidentiality and discretion against unwanted exposure of privacy in social media.

There are balances to be built, between the real world and the virtual, the analogical and the digital, the fixed and the mobile, the secure and hyper connected, the private and the visible. I go to the gym now, because staring at the screen makes me feel stiff.

Article published in STC Lines 2013 (page 3):