Lots of Buzz about 5G and IoT at TM Forum This Year

5G Technologist and IoT Wireless Pioneer on his first visit to TM Forum's annual event

Dr. William Webb, Contributing Analyst, Horizon Research & Market Analysis

TM Forum Live is a substantial event. While not on the scale of Mobile World Congress (MWC) it has over 3,000 attendees, six parallel tracks of presentations, huge exhibition space and much more. These big events have a different look and feel from the typical conferences where the entire audience can fit into one room.

Like MWC, the stands and corporate presentations will be upbeat: there is no benefit from those entities in being pessimistic. This leads to a rather one-sided show where opportunities appear to abound and issues are rarely mentioned. Every company has a wonderful solution or plan and every development is positive.

Focussed on the communications service provider (CSP), TM Forum Live’s brochure says:

“As margins in existing markets erode and technology such as cloud and 5G create new business models and opportunities, progressive (CSPs) realize that successful digital transformation requires radical change, and that the pace of change must be accelerated to drive business growth and keep pace with the market, competitors, and new, more agile players.”

The strands are rather operational. They focus on how telcos can improve their operational execution, virtualise their networks, move to digital platforms and become more customer centric. I expect a lot of presentations around how telcos can optimise what they already have, rather than venture into a new world.

In terms of IoT, the focus is broadly on how telcos can implement their own IoT solutions and the partnerships they might need to succeed. I aim to inject some discussion as to whether non-cellular IoT solutions might have a role, and concern about whether telcos can focus enough on IoT to make it succeed with all the other distractions going on.

Despite 5G appearing in the first line of the conference brochure, there is only a few hours dedicated to it at the event – strangely in the “Agile Ops” stream. Panellists come predominantly from the established industry – the major operators and equipment providers. I expect them to be positive towards 5G and I aim to inject a note of caution and realism into the debate.

Like many events, I suspect the most interesting insights and discussions will occur over a glass of wine at the evening networking!

For more incisive analysis of the telecom industry, read Dr. Webb’s new report, Europe 5G-LTE Policy Spring 2017, available to purchase now from TelecomEngine.com.

Download the executive summary for free HERE.