Mobile World Congress 2017 has come and gone and, boy, did it ever leave a mark.
As one of the world's largest trade shows, MWC is well known for deploying the big guns of the tech industry and showing off technology that the world will be using in the near future.
But with the stakes riding high, over-hype is common as well. The tech that companies claim will transform the world often end up as nothing more than a novelty item or a future trivial pursuit answer.
The main themes of MWC 2017 were 5G, AI (artificial intelligence), and IoT (Internet of Things). Some of these are definitely worthy of the hype they're receiving, while others... not so much.
I was at the show myself. 5G is coming, and it's bringing a sea of rapid transformation.
Why 5G technology is poised to transform the world
When most people think of 5G, they assume it's a similar jump forward that 4G and 3G were. They picture themselves downloading their Spotify playlist 20x faster and streaming Stranger Things off Netflix in even higher definition.
With 5G, things are drastically different. 5G network technology is poised to completely transform our world as we know it.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen a slew of new connected devices released. From wearable tech (like smart watches) to connected cars to AI assistants (like Amazon's Alexa), everything we own is beginning to go online.
And with the Internet of Things, more devices than ever will begin to connect to the world wide web. Our TVs, light bulbs, appliances, even hair brushes are becoming "smarter".
Until now, most of these devices have merely been prototypes and predictions of our near future.
The problem has been that, while these devices all worked in theory, the current network infrastructure couldn't support them. 4G is simply not powerful enough to effectively connect these devices and have them communicate with each other.
That's where 5G comes in.
The new 5G networks will power an entire new world of devices. Devices that will now have the ability to seamlessly communicate with one another.
What kind of devices, you ask?
- A self-driving car comes across a road accident that is blocking traffic. It sends a signal to all other cars within the vicinity, who then automatically reroute to avoid that area, thus improving traffic flow.
- Missed out on grabbing tickets to the big game? Stream 360 degree live video to your VR headset and watch the game from any seat you'd like.
- A worker on an offshore oil rig uses an exoskeleton to control a robot working in a high-risk situation, thereby keeping the worker 100% safe.
- Every device in your home is now connected to the internet without the need for wired connections and wireless routers. (the death of WiFi?? 😱)
These are just a few of the potential scenarios discussed at MWC this year. And if you think they sound too far-fetched, they were all demoed live in front of my (and over 200,000) eyes.
Now, as with any new technology, there are some roadblocks. I won't bore you with the specifics, but many of these issues center around funding. It's going to take time and money to upgrade and implement this new technology all over the world, particularly when it comes to creating smart cities.
But, it's already beginning. Wireless carriers are already starting to deploy 5G networks.
So, what does this mean for wireless retailers?
5G provides many exciting opportunities for wireless retailers
With a new world of connectivity soon to be at our fingertips, consumers are going to need help.
How will they decide which smart light bulb is best suited for their home? Should they use Amazon's Alexa or Google's Home to connect their smart home and make voice commands to the rest of their devices? Which VR headset is best suited for their entertainment needs?
These are all questions that could, and should, be answered by the experts in wireless retail.
Who is better positioned to own this exciting new market? Many of these devices are a natural extension of mobile, and wireless retailers are already selling smart devices and accessories like watches, headphones, and fitness trackers.
The future of mobile is increased connectivity, communication, and collaboration. 5G is leading the charge towards that future.
Wireless retailers need to be ready to seize this new opportunity to become a one-stop shop for everything smart and connected. Phones, tablets, wearables, smart home devices, and an endless selection of accessories for all of the above.
After all, wireless retail has owned every "G" thus far. Why shouldn't they take 5G as well? 👊
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