MWC17 Halftime Report: the Game of Innovation has some interesting plays

Credit: cristiano barni /

It is pretty much half time in Barcelona. Fatigue is already showing on several players’ faces, but we must accept that the Game of Innovation is about pace, timing and execution.

Early leaders are emerging, and for this judge anyway, they are coming from the operator community, and looking in pretty good shape.

Telefonica has taken a commanding position with its ‘4th Platform’ play. Building on several years of rumours about rebuilding stacks, simplifying everything, putting customer centricity on top, the result (of an almost five billion euro investment) is emerging as ‘the trusted operator’. For an operator to put a concept as left field as ‘trust’ in the centre takes a lot of guts. A commendable performance.

On top of this, Telefonica, together with Ericsson, now has a technically viable remote controlled car, which will give it something to do at half time, while they wait for the regulation, safety rules and who knows what to catch up. That said, for innovation, Telefonica is our Man of the Match so far.

Orange, too, should be commended for bringing an old play out onto the field, and announcing that they are becoming a bank. Sign up here.

Disappointing performances from the digital service providers, we thought. From our position on the touchline, it seemed that the potential Rooney replacement, Reed Hastings, had simply been passed Striker Zuckerberg’s speech and been told to add notes, smile and to say the word ‘co-operation’ a lot. He, like Zuckerberg, did not want to ruffle any bandwidth or net neutrality feathers .

This judge is not sure what to make of Midfielder Mital’s run. It seemed strong and passionate, it certainly dodged a few defensive plays, but the new Captain of the GSMA seemed to show aggression at almost exactly the point when the whistle has been finally blown on data roaming violations, er, charges. Nice style, but will the substance rate a first team appearance in the future?

There have been other, interesting, performances as well.

The 5G transnormalists, in their shiny new stripe seemed to ‘talk the talk’ but how soon they will ‘walk the walk’ remains to be seen. All we can say for sure is that they have been perfectly professional in coming up with new things to say about something that isn’t here yet. Perhaps too professional. In fact, we wondered briefly whether the ref would reach for a yellow card when we were told that 5G was about giving mobile networks a brain. That said, newcomer G22 is one to watch.

A nice, feel good, team effort came from the GSMA’s PR strikers, who uncovered a ‘let’s give something back’ play, trying to persuade us that operators are good enough to move into the league of curing world hunger through big data. Clearly, the players involved have enormous data, but the managers will have to consider whether they can actually perform at the levels needed to take on this top level challenge.

One solid and un-hyped performance came from the players feeding Wi-Fi performance to the operators on the wings. Companies such as Ruckus Wireless and Amdocs have collaborated to improve team performance on connectivity, and we should certainly keep an eye on them for future games.

There are several key players still on the bench, there is much to play for and their time will come. But so far, we think that the innovation game is looking good, hotting up and – so far – being driven by the operators.

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