The Mobile World Congress, the world’s leading telecommunications exhibition, was held at the roundtable of Tele2 with the participation of representatives from Ericsson, EY, and the Moscow Information Technology Department. Gazeta.It has been found out how the telecommunications companies and residents of metropolitan areas see their lives on the eve of another mobile revolution – the transition of operators to the mobile standard 5G and more and more penetrating into the urban life of the Internet of things (IoT).
Mobile World Congress is certainly the main annual exhibition of the mobile and telecommunications industry in the world. 2.3 thousand participants and 108 thousand visitors from all over the world, all of them representing the mobile and telecommunications industry. There are no casual people on the MWC since tickets cost from € 800 to € 5000. Nevertheless, MWC is not only a review of achievements in the field of high technologies but also a place where the present and the future of the entire telecommunications industry is discussed.
Mobile Internet wins Wi-Fi
In one of the meetings, partner EY (Ernst & Young) Anton Ustinenko presented a new study of the company, which showed trends in broadband Internet consumption by Moscow residents in 2017-2018.
Unexpectedly, the most popular places where mobile Internet users use are a bed (more than 70%), a dining table, business meetings (more than 50%) and even a toilet (about 20%). Interestingly, according to EY, since 2017, mobile Internet in Moscow is very actively competing in user scenarios with fixed broadband access and classic Wi-Fi.
Many users stop switching to their home Wi-Fi network at home and continue to use mobile broadband on smartphones.
As noted by Ustinenko, this indicates that subscribers have enough capacity for Internet packages of prepaid traffic. Moreover, from 50 to 80% of subscribers, depending on the tariff plan, do not fully use their packages.
Also in the EY study, the topic of competition was touched upon (here, too, it is a question of user preferences) of mobile communication and urban Wi-Fi access points. Despite the number of free Wi-Fi access points that have grown in Moscow in recent years, since the summer of 2017 there has been almost a 50% drop in the use of city Wi-Fi in favor of mobile broadband access.
On the one hand, this is due to the improvement in the coverage of operators in the Moscow metro. So, according to the director of the macro-region “Moscow” Tele2 Igor Zhizhikin, now the company provides mobile Internet services at 80% of the metro stations. On the other hand, a significant factor, which led to the outflow of users from the city’s Wi-Fi networks to mobile operators, was the complicated procedure for registration in Wi-Fi access points, according to EY. According to Ustinenko, many subscribers do not like the complexity of the entry procedure, nor the fact that their data is used to display advertisements. Moreover, some users are willing to pay more for mobile services, provided that the data collected about them will not be used in any way.
However, impersonal user data is a huge amount of information that communication operators use for analytics, improving their own services and for commercial purposes. Moreover, the data that mobile operators have is unique, as it is difficult to collect them in any other way.
According to the deputy head of the Department of Information Technologies of Moscow, Alexander Gorbatko, the agency on a commercial basis acquires such data from the entire “Big Four” mobile operators in Moscow and uses them to analyze traffic flows, population density and planning the development of urban infrastructure.
According to the DIT, the penetration of the mobile Internet in Moscow has exceeded 200%, and daily on the territory of the capital is on the air about 43 million SIM-cards, which gives a huge amount of data for study and analysis.
The official also noted that the cost of the mobile Internet in Moscow is now one of the lowest in the world. The average cost of 3G mobile traffic in Moscow is 250 rubles, while in transfer to rubles in New York it reaches 1926 rubles, in Singapore – 1865 rubles, in London – 1266 rubles, and in Barcelona – 991 rub.
Such a price policy has both its pluses and minuses for operators. On the one hand, the availability of mobile Internet gives a very high level of penetration, on the other hand – low ARPU (average revenue per user – approx.) Complicates the operator’s business.
According to EY, mobile Internet is now perceived as an integral part of life, like hot water, electricity, heating. “The Moscow subscriber considers the mobile Internet, something self-evident and practically does not notice its availability. But his absence or appreciation is perceived sharply negative, “- said Ustinenko.
What’s stopping 5G and the Internet of things
In the conditions of low ARPU subscribers, mobile operators will face the problems of developing their networks, as the transition to the 5G standard will require significant capital investments. This is the equipment and the location of the transmitting stations. The density of such stations, especially when using the millimeter range, increases to the line of sight.
Igor Zhizhikin from Tele2 believes that operators and service providers will be able to earn only on the introduction of new demanded services that can be developed when deploying 5G-network. Another source of earnings for mobile operators is the maintenance of many times more SIM cards than now. The very concept of the Internet of things implies an almost tenfold increase in the number of connected devices. At the same time, the director of the Moscow branch of the operator excluded the possibility of a noticeable increase in the cost of mobile Internet for subscribers due to high competition in the Moscow communications market.
As for the difficulties in the transition to the new communication standards, according to Zhizhikin, the main problems in the development of the network for operators are not technological or financial, but administrative and legal, when installing base stations.
“So far, there are no clearly defined rules for the location of transmission stations at housing facilities and federal property. So, the installation of a transmitting station on the roof of a residential building can be blocked by one tenant, who, for example, uses the services of another operator. So far, only two regions, Moscow and Moscow region, have clearly prescribed the rules for placing the devices of telecom operators on municipal property objects, and this allowed us to make a huge leap forward when developing the network in the Moscow region, “he said.
What technological future await residents of capitals
Interesting visionary research Ericsson ConsumerLab in the past roundtable was presented by Aydin Abzhanbekov, director of GR, IR, and marketing Ericsson in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The review, entitled “The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2018 and beyond”, reflects the expectations of users from digital devices, technologies, and services. In the course of the survey, more than 5,000 Internet users in large metropolitan areas were interviewed: London, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Moscow.
According to this study, users expect a paradigm shift in the creation of digital devices and the introduction of information services in the direction of greater “humanity.”
Among the key expectations of residents of megacities in different countries of the world are the development of intelligent virtual assistants. More than half of current users of voice assistants rely on the possibility of using gestures, emotions, intonations of voice and touch to interact with technical devices.
Another “dream” of metropolitan residents is the close integration of virtual and augmented reality in communication. According to 75% of respondents, in 5 years the technology of virtual and augmented reality will allow to relive the moments fixed on the smartphone.
Robots and automation are expected by townspeople no less. 40% of respondents would like robots to work instead of them. 32% of respondents, including students, believe that they do not need work as the meaning of life. Most of all they want to have a robotic double in Moscow – 49% of the population.
34% of world respondents would like to be fully serviced by robots. In Moscow, this indicator is also the highest – 47%
“Got” and the eternal problem of megacities – traffic jams. Muscovites are the most in the world (59% of respondents) hope that the problem of traffic jams will be solved with the aid of flying taxis, and 55% believe that Moscow needs special airways for drones and flying vehicles and delivery.
With some fantastic expectations of users who took part in the survey, it turned out that they quite accurately caught the modern technological trends.
It is the themes of the generation of 5G, IoT networks, artificial intelligence and smart robots, that is, those technologies without which it is impossible to implement the above-stated wishes were the most discussed and “hot” at MWC 2018.