MWC Las Vegas: AI, 5G SA will be hot topics

The second edition of MWC Las Vegas, a much smaller North American version of the GSMA’s monster Barcelona show, is gearing up to host more than 350 exhibitors and sponsors and at least 10,000 attendees in the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The GSMA is hosting the event next week in partnership with CTIA. AT&T Business, T-Mobile for Business and Verizon Business will be participating in keynotes. Hot topics will be generative AI, open Radio Access Network (RAN) deployments, satellites and non-terrestrial networks (NTN), the spectrum pipeline (or lack thereof) and who knows what else.

All eyes are set to shift to enterprise 5G as the Big 3 U.S. operators are loading traffic onto their 5G Standalone (SA) networks, although T-Mobile is ahead of the other two. T-Mobile was first to deploy a 5G SA network and it’s recently been talking about its network slicing capabilities more than ever.

“I think T-Mobile will try to make a lot of hay with slicing,” said Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner. “I think that will be loud and clear.”

Of course, Washington, D.C., policymakers will be there, talking all things spectrum, including during the National Spectrum Consortium (NSC) member meeting on Wednesday afternoon. NSC’s membership coordinated with the Department of Defense (DoD) on a highly anticipated report on the lower 3 GHz band, which is expected to be released by the end of this month/any day now.

AI, edge, private wireless

The GSMA is hoping to drive attendees to the keynote stage on Tuesday to hear how the rollout of 5G is laying the foundation for a phase of innovation that follows across industries, enabling new platforms and drawing on things like AI, IoT and edge computing.

The second keynote on Tuesday will explore how cloud computing is being used by enterprises, operators and users while the third keynote on Wednesday is devoted to private wireless and how it’s shifting the way businesses operate.

Also on tap: the first-ever Open Gateway DevCon, which is all about developers and the GSMA’s open API agenda.

“The GSMA Open Gateway initiative was launched back at MWC Barcelona and now six months on it will be coming to life at DevCon, with key speakers from across the ecosystem discussing how developers can collaborate closely with mobile operators and cloud service providers to develop new services in an open API economy world,” GSMA CMO Lara Dewar told Fierce.

Who’s there, who’s not

As with a lot of trade shows, chatter will inevitably revolve around who is and isn’t in attendance. Interestingly, Ericsson is once again not exhibiting at MWC Las Vegas, “due to prioritizing direct targeted customer events and our continued large presence at MWC Barcelona,” the vendor told Fierce in a statement. Ericsson will have representatives at the show on Tuesday, however.

A number of analysts won’t be attending the show, likely in part because companies are saving their budgets for the big February 26-29, 2024, MWC show in Barcelona.

Lynnette Luna, senior research analyst at S&P Global, won’t be attending the Vegas event but expects the buzz will be around the next evolution of 5G since the initial North American 5G rollouts are largely done.

“Are we going to see 5G as a true differentiator as the next iterations of 5G come to fruition? Maybe a little reality comes into play as private 5G has not taken off as fast as hoped,” she said.

“I would also hope to hear about progress being made with the Open Gateway Initiative that made a big splash at MWC in Barcelona this year,” she added, noting there are sessions on tap for that.