The GSMA Mobile World Congress 2018 wrapped up in Barcelona after a week of industry excitement. 2,500 vendors and more than 108,000 participants from around the world. This show has grown in significance and is the largest telecommunications event in the world. Although the theme was formerly dominated by mobile devices and applications, over the last three years it has transformed to be a true B2B and B2C showcase.

Major themes at the event were 5G, IoE (IoT, connected car, smart city etc.), Cloud (Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI), etc.), Cloud Services (enablement services such as AI, ML and Data Analytics), and Business Platform-based new services (digital content and media, others). Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) received major emphasis as well.  Mobile devices and apps playing a far less significant role.  Participating were key customers from all geographies with APAC and MEA customers seeing the largest boost in engagement. In addition, many of these customers and partners made significant investments in booths within the show’s expansive halls. Microsoft WW Industry was joined in many meetings by Microsoft Research with their experience in the ongoing Evolved Packet Core (EPC) as a Service on Azure project.

It’s clear that Microsoft’s strategy focusing on helping transform the telecoms from traditional Communications Service Providers (CSP) into Digital Service Providers (DSP) with 5G, AI, SDN and NFV as their next big bets is resonating well.

Microsoft at the Show

Telefonica Aura deployed in six countries

The TM Forum states that Telefonica Aura is “arguably the most visible Telco AI project to date.”  Microsoft’s collaboration with Telefonica on developing their Aura vision continues to forge ahead and create extraordinary new experiences. Telefonica announced Aura is live and in production across six countries and four languages (full keynote). Microsoft’s Gurpreet Singh Pall participated in the announcement demonstrating our commitment and involvement in Aura alongside other partners. This project represents one of the largest deployments of AI and Bots in a Telco, garnering the interest from other Telcos around the world.

Huawei and Microsoft partner on SD-WAN

Huawei announced the deployment of an SD-WAN solution on Microsoft Azure. “As one of the leading global cloud providers, Microsoft Azure has many enterprise customers. The integration of Huawei’s SD-WAN with Azure will help enterprise customers quickly roll out enterprise interconnection networks, and enjoy the experience and performance made possible by cloud services,” said Bob De Haven, General Manager of Microsoft Worldwide Communications and Media.

Nokia partner event featured AI panel discussion

Nokia hosted a panel discussion for top customers and partners around the new technology areas; 5G, IoT and AI with executives from AWS, E&Y, and Steven Guggenheimer representing Microsoft.  Overall the panel provided unique insights, with E&Y focusing on new generation of 5G solution thinking, AWS with a strong focus on their new edge offering, while Microsoft balanced the role of AI today and in the future and the connection with both IoT and 5G.

Microsoft Telco Cloud vision disrupts SDN plans

SDN/NFV was once again a main theme garnering significant customer interest. Many customers requested a briefing on Microsoft Telco Cloud and how it can accelerate their plans to focus on “Business Platforms” for their Digital Transformations, the rollout of 5G/EPC, achieve service agility with Software Defined Networking (SDN and SD-WAN) and gain operational efficiency with Network Function Virtualization (NFV).  Eric Troup and the WW Industry team delivered the message that Microsoft Telco Cloud is now getting high visibility given Microsoft’s prominent role in the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture (ODA), ZOOM and Linux Foundation Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) projects. There is growing industry awareness that an increasing number of tier-1 telecoms are beginning to use Azure for mission critical network workloads. Some have been expressing concerns that the industry has been misled by NFV promise.  However, Microsoft Telco Cloud addresses those concerns perfectly with a commercially stable and ready now global “actualization platform”: Azure and Azure Stack.

Microsoft in sessions

Microsoft speakers from various groups participated in sessions and panels across a wide variety of areas, including: IoT, Blockchain, cybercrime, modern applications, eSim, partnerships, and startup engagement.

Microsoft and partner MWC event news (more on @MSFTTelco)

Mobile World Congress news coverage that included Microsoft.

  • T-Mobile, AT&T sign on to support Windows 10 on Snapdragon PCs (Always Connected PCs)
    T-Mobile and AT&T have added their commitments to support the new Windows 10 Always Connected PC devices that use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile platform when they arrive at some point this year. Verizon and Sprint announced their commitments earlier this year.
  • AI Joins Microsoft Partner Network To Deliver Global Businesses A Full Stack AI-based Virtual Assistant Solution Wysdom.AI, announced today before Mobile World Congress that it has joined the Microsoft Partner Network and will deliver its enterprise-focused cognitive customer care solution across the globe.
  • Huawei Teams With SD-WAN Partners to Build an Intent-Driven Network Huawei, SoftBank, Microsoft, Riverbed Technology, F5, and the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC) held a press conference to discuss SD-WAN business development and ecosystem cooperation.
  • Cubic Telecom connects over 1M connected cars with the world’s leading Automotive OEMs Azure powered Cubic Telecom today announced that it has technically enabled more than one million cars since launching its software platform 15 months ago. Cars are connecting every day in more than 35 countries across 40 mobile networks.  Customer OEMs include blue-chip brands within the Volkswagen Group.
  • IoT deployments must be simplified – Microsoft Implementing IoT should be simple: connect the thing, gain insight, take action. Microsoft can simplify deployments by managing the provision of devices, providing secure systems that scale, and then enabling rapid analytical insight.
  • Telcos are precious about their data and it’s making AI hard
    When it comes to the data, the telcos are being miserly, but there is perhaps a good reason for this. Many are concerned about security, the legalities and privacy implications, and with GDPR just around the corner this is very warranted, but it does put the industry in a bit of a catch-22 situation for AI.
  • Telefónica Takes Aura AI Tool Into 6 Markets
    MWC 2018 — Telefónica has launched its voice-activated “cognitive” assistant Aura in the six markets of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Spain and the UK after teaming up with tech giants including Facebook, Google and Microsoft on the new platform.
  • MWC: Optimizing Mobile Device Connectivity through Machine Learning
    Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiaries, like T-Mobile in the United States, are using machine learning algorithms based on dynamic cloud infrastructure managed by Mesosphere DC/OS to dramatically improve the consumer experience when it comes to mobile connectivity. The Deutsche Telekom CONNECT app, now available on the Google Play and iOS App Store, launched this year to allow customers to optimize their connection based on cost or performance at any point in time.
  • MWC: HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack enables the application-centric hybrid cloud
    Increasingly, hybrid cloud solutions are playing a crucial role in allowing businesses to drive digital transformation. Combining on-premises infrastructure and multiple clouds allows companies to place individual workloads in the right environments while managing everything from a central location.
  • HPE: Different use-cases for Azure Stack at #MWC18 – video
  • MWC 2018: Qualcomm says many more Always Connected ARM PCs coming
    Microsoft’s OEMs are expected to ship the first Windows 10 on ARM sometime this quarter, but according to Qualcomm the laptops and tablets running the OS are just the first wave, with “many more” devices coming later this year.
  • Braze Adds AccuWeather and Microsoft to Partner Ecosystem
    Earlier #MWC18, Braze CEO Bill Magnuson jumped on stage to reveal Braze’s latest move: We’re officially announcing partnerships with AccuWeather and Microsoft. This alliance represents a strategic set of integrations that will work to deliver even bolder, more powerful brand moments for our clients.
  • Huawei Teams with SD-WAN Partners to Build an Intent-Driven Network in All-Cloud Era
    At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018, Huawei, SoftBank, Microsoft, Riverbed Technology, F5, and the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC) held a press conference to discuss SD-WAN business development and ecosystem cooperation. At the conference, Huawei reported on the latest progress in SD-WAN commercial deployment and announced partnerships with these companies in public cloud, network optimization, security, and other domains.
  • eSIM picks up the pace: Deutsche Telekom network connects eBike and rider with the web at MWC
    The eBike streams directly while on the move, the car recognizes its driver’s tariff, and the cell phone can stay at home when jogging with the smartwatch: Deutsche Telekom presents eSIM applications for end users at the Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona. Among the exhibits are those from renowned partners from the sectors mobility, automotive, computing, and smart wearables.
  • Global Mobile Awards: Microsoft’s Seeing AI app for blind people wins accessibility and inclusion prize at MWC’18
    Microsoft’s excellent iOS app for blind people and those with sight loss Seeing AI picked up the Accessibility and Inclusion prize at the Mobile World Congress 2018 Global Mobile Awards in Barcelona. Seeing AI uses the smartphone camera to recognize and narrate the world to people with little or no vision. Functions include the ability to describe scenes (mentioning what furniture and other objects are around you), people (estimations of their age, gender, emotions and clothing etc) and text recognition (to take a letter or magazine and read out the text). These features represent enormous opportunities for blind people to get more information and support in their work or daily lives.
  • PCTEL Will Demonstrate Augmented Reality Interference Hunting at MWC
    PCTEL, a leader in Performance Critical TELecom solutions, announced that it will demonstrate its concept for an augmented reality SeeWave® interference locating system at MWC 2018 (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona. SeeWave is a handheld interference hunting tool, used by wireless operators to track down unwanted signals that harm network performance. MWC attendees will have the opportunity to use SeeWave in conjunction with a Microsoft HoloLens to visualize spectrum and identify potential sources of interference in the real world.
  • MWC: Cubic connects over 1M connected cars
    Cubic Telecom announced that it has technically enabled more than one million cars since launching its software platform 15 months ago.  Cars are connecting every day in more than 35 countries across 40 mobile networks.  Customer OEMs include blue-chip brands within the Volkswagen Group.

Intel partners with Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to make 5G laptops
By the end of next year, you might be able to buy a laptop that comes with a 5G cellular connection. At least that’s what Intel says will happen, thanks to a collaboration with Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Those four companies are supposed to be working toward creating PCs with built-in 5G connections that’ll be available by “holiday 2019,” using Intel’s modems.