Connected future takes center stage at MWC 2014

Visions of the Networked Society were described by Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg in his keynote speech in Ericsson’s cityscape at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona.

The speech, delivered to 2,000 people, ended with a demonstration of remote control operations over a mobile network.

As he walked onstage, Vestberg was wearing a number of connected devices, including an exercise bracelet and two different smartphones. Later he bounced a connected basketball onstage that offered tips on how to improve his game. He quipped: "We said in 2009 that we would see 50 billion connected devices… and now it’s really coming true!"

Vestberg talked about the changing roles made necessary when mobility, broadband and the cloud come together to transform all industries. "We are accelerating towards the Networked Society, and we see new business models already being realized in the music industry, healthcare, and transport. This is only the beginning, and change will never be this slow again."

Ericsson announced its key launches for Mobile World Congress 2014, which all support operators as they choose strategies to be network developers, service enablers, or service creators.

"These roles are choices, there isn’t one right path to go," Vestberg said. "Sometimes it’s a combination of these roles. What we have launched here supports superior network performance and great customer experiences in the Networked Society."

The launches include: the Zero Site, a Philips lamp post with LED lighting that enables cities to rent space to operators for mobile broadband equipment; small cell as a service; Service Agility, which enables operators to launch services within hours rather than weeks; and TV Anywhere, a "pay-TV at web speed" service that capitalizes on Ericsson’s acquisition of Mediaroom.

Vestberg invited Allen Lew, CEO of Group Digital L!fe and Country Chief Officer of Singapore for SingTel, to explain what the future holds for operators as service creators.

Lew said: "We have to learn to be a lot faster and take more risks going into the mobile internet age. So what would really make a difference for us is to make Ericsson part of our innovation team, helping us compete better against large digital players as well as to get small innovators, or small start-ups. Shared investments will lead to shared benefits."

Ericsson Research offered a demonstration of how user experience influences design questions for a future network. Cristian Norlin, Senior Designer at Ericsson Research, explained the demonstration involving virtual reality goggles, a joystick controller, and a miniature digger in a sandbox. Norlin said: "In the future, certain experts might not be able to travel. So if the digger was a 500-ton real machine located in Australia, but the actual driver is located in Canada, then we realize we need extremely high quality and extremely low latency in the video feed going to the goggles."

As a colleague moved sand using the remote controls, Norlin continued: "With this user case, we have conversations with customers and users that can help us develop solutions that are more scalable, that enable richer experiences, and that allow for mobility."

The demonstration rounded off Ericsson’s messaging about opportunities for innovation within areas such as connectivity, real-time analytics, management and cloud technologies.

Vestberg concluded: "We are limited only by our imaginations."