More than 61,000 people from around the world gathered in Barcelona, Spain earlier this year for the 2022 edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC Barcelona) — THE place to be to stay in-the-know on all digital innovation trends.

“There were very diverse topics at MWC, with an overall strong focus on sustainability well beyond reducing carbon emission, targeting digital inclusion, education, e-waste and more,” says Tom Loozen, Partner and Global Telecommunications and EMEIA TMT Leader at EY.  Anatasia Ribbing Kristoffers, BD lead Nordic TMT agreed, “People are looking to share ideas, find new ways of innovating.”

The four-day event featured 33 keynote speakers, 183 countries,1,900 exhibitors and hundreds of hours of invaluable content. There were insightful discussions focused on how constant connectivity in advanced technology is critical, and how it can positively impact not only companies and individuals but do good for the planet and society.

We tapped YPO member Stasia Mitchell, Global Entrepreneurship Leader at EY, YPO’s strategic learning advisor, and her team at EY for her thoughts on big takeaways and themes that rose to the top.

The metaverse – it’s real and there are a lot of ideas forming around it

The metaverse was on full display throughout the event, which shouldn’t be wholly surprising to anyone paying attention. Look for the metaverse to transform businesses in the coming years, as well as highlight the divide between Western and emerging economies.

For example, Tech Mahindra unveiled TechMVerse, a new way to deliver interactive and immersive experiences in the Metaverse for its customers. They will leverage its infrastructure of pervasive AI, blockchain, 5G, AR/VR and quantum computing to build B2B use cases across sectors, and in turn leverage opportunities from the metaverse in use cases such as DealerVerse, a metaverse-based car dealership, Middlemist, an NFT marketplace, and Meta Bank – a virtual bank and gaming center.

Other metaverse highlights included SK Telecom’s 4D metaverse showcase, KT Corp’s travel metaverse service and Telefonica‘s take on the changing role of AI.

Our global use of 5G is maturing

5G use continues to rapidly increase, with total connections expected to reach 1 billion in 2022.By 2025, 5G will account for about a quarter of total mobile connections, and more than two in five people will live within the reach of a 5G network around the world.

This boost comes from COVID-19 economic recovery, a rise in the sales of 5G handsets and mobile operators who are expanding their network coverage and marketing efforts. It also reaffirms 5G as a powerful tool to transform society and businesses, and enterprises in the industry are harnessing it:

  • Ericsson showcased seven new 5G radio access network (RAN) products, including a dual-band radio unit, which uses less power to create to more output power compared to the current model.
  • China Mobile announced a commitment to take its 5G base station count to 1 million by end of 2022.
  • Qualcomm announced a partnership with Microsoft to help the company simplify its deployment of end-to-end 5G private networks.

  • HCL launched two new 5G applications to help mobile operators optimize customer experience and reduce energy consumption across their 4G/ 5G infrastructure which will improve network performance in places with high traffic congestion, such as city centers and large sporting events.

Sustainability and digital inclusion are more important than ever

For Mitchell, the importance of digital inclusion was the biggest takeaway of the event.

“How can we create a better world if people are not able to connect long term? It’s amazing how many people don’t have access to the internet. We need to provide infrastructure for everyone. Not just businesses, but the entire ecosystem deserves access.” ”
— Stasia Mitchell share twitter

While 5G access has grown substantially since its launch (much quicker than its predecessors) and GSMA estimating that global connections will surpass 1 billion by the end of 2022, that still only covers a little over 12% of the global population.

“All the innovation is exciting, but we all need to contribute to the agenda,” says Mitchell. “How can we create a better world if people are not able to connect long term? It’s amazing how many people don’t have access to the internet. We need to provide infrastructure for everyone. Not just businesses, but the entire ecosystem deserves access.”

Along with digital inclusion, the importance of conscious practices throughout the industry were just as much a focal point. A few examples:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched a carbon footprint tool as part of its net-zero carbon efforts to help customers estimate their emissions.

  • GSMA director general Mats Granryd urged the mobile industry to maintain climate focus, emphasizing the role smart connectivity can play towards climate change. He specifically cited transportation automation, and the ability to support new business models and technologies.

  • Fujitsu announced that it is launching new vRANtechnology with the potential to reduce base station emissions by 50%, in addition to offering users a higher quality of service.

  • KT Corp is improving the power usage effectiveness of its data centers, experimenting with various cooling techniques, such as air flow prediction using dynamic zoning and computational fluid dynamics.

Miss out on all the MWC fun? Visit their website to access a collection of their keynote speakers on video, as well as recap information.