The 2016 edition of MWC had two key themes: 5G and IoT. Both themes are positioned as potential revenue drivers for MNOs, but they are diametrically opposed propositions. These themes enforce the status of the MNOs as connectivity providers. Connectivity is a (necessary) commodity; 5G and IoT will take time to unfold as bounded by the requirements of investments and market development. But behind the limelight, the Internet giants and OTTs continue to lead the evolution towards network virtualization, while leveraging their inherent cloud and big data advantages, and as such, driving towards major market disruption. New business models are now possible that may render the MNOs to spectrum holders as service delivery is achieved through multiple channels with the cellular network being one of many such channels.
Our team was at MWC16. We compiled a set of observations which can be downloaded here.