RCS and 5G Take Centre Stage at Mobile World Congress 2018

This year’s Mobile World Congress is a particularly significant one for the GSMA’s Future Networks Programme. It marks a turning point in the road to commercial reality for two transformative technologies: Rich Communications Services, or RCS, and 5G.

On Sunday 25th February, in partnership with 3Cinteractive, the tenth GSMA RCS A2P Future Messaging Lab will bring together many of the leading voices in RCS.  With no need to download multiple apps, RCS is a single, common platform revolutionising the biggest messaging app in the world – SMS. As RCS is rolled out worldwide, consumers will increasingly be able to interact with all of their brands in one place – airlines, railways, taxis, restaurants, banks and more – using far more attractive and sophisticated capabilities such as rich media, suggested reply and action buttons, typing indicators and read receipts, company branding and verified sender information, and much more.

Key stakeholders from across the growing RCS ecosystem – including operators, developers, technology providers, aggregators, marketing companies and brands – will convene at the Constanza Hotel between 12:00 and 17:00 to showcase and discuss the first commercial live brand campaigns, and discuss the strategy for RCS in 2018, continuing the momentum of the last year. The event will bring together some of the leading voices in the burgeoning RCS industry to discuss standards, best practice, and Q4 brand trials. The breadth of participation in our previous Labs has been highly encouraging – reflecting a seriousness about collaboration which can only yield positive results – and we are thrilled to see adoption among operators continue to rise in recent months. Please register your interest in attending the A2P Future Messaging Lab in Barcelona here. As the Lab takes place before the Mobile World Congress begins in earnest on Monday, there is no need for attendees to register for a Mobile World Congress pass.

With RCS now poised to become the platform of choice for brand communications over the next five years, there is much to discuss. Recent research by Mobilesquared projects that monthly active users of RCS will exceed 430 million globally in 2018, rising by a remarkable 500% or more over the following year. The improvements to B2C messaging made possible by RCS have already opened enormous market opportunities, with the market set to exceed $74 billion by 2021.

On Tuesday 27th February at 11:00, RCS will be a key focus on the main stage at Mobile World Congress, as thought leaders meet to discuss how digital transformation in retail has changed the very nature of the industry. We hope to see you at the Digital Transformation 2.0 for the Consumer session, which will explore how brands can build a single point of engagement with consumers which is relevant, reactive and reliable. Confirmed speakers include Rimma Perelmuter, CEO at Mobile Ecosystem Forum who will be hosting the session; Marco Trecroce, Chief Information Offer at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; Anil Sabharwal, VP of Product Management from Google who will be moderating; Ann Cook, Director of Interactive and Managing Director of ITL at ITV; Yves Maitre, Executive EVP for Connected Objects and Partnerships at Orange; Mike Brouwers, Regional Marketing Director Europe at Subway; and Stefano Parisse, Group Director of Products and Services at Vodafone.

Later on the Tuesday, between 14:00 and 16:00, major brands will unveil their live consumer campaigns for the very first time at the Future Networks programme’s Messaging as a Platform Seminar – The Future of Brand Communications. Register for the Seminar to find out which brands have already launched and hear from industry experts at the very top of their fields who will be discussing the exciting future of the RCS platform. We hope you will be able to join the audience as Vice President NG Communications of Deutsche Telekom, Dr. Petja Heimbach; Head of Product Management – RCS at Google, Amir Sarhangi; Director of Product Innovation & RCS Program Manager at Samsung, Sean Yoo; and Global Head of Smart Communications and Security at Vodafone, Oscar Gallego, will drill down into the detail of who is doing what, and how.

RCS is also well represented at this year’s Innovation City, where live use cases will be demonstrated. At MWC Barcelona 2017, ‘The Future of Operator Messaging’ was launched, with leading brands demonstrating the remarkable potential of RCS Business Messaging; this year the first campaigns are live in market, and we’re very excited to share these with you. Google and Vodafone will showcase their RCS platforms, and their broader work revealing how major brands are utilising this dynamic new platform for consumer communications.

To further aid the process of bringing RCS to fruition, the Future Networks Programme will hold three RCS Information Sessions for Operators seeking to build on their existing knowledge of RCS, where they will be able to discuss their questions with those already active in the ecosystem including the GSMA RCS team, aggregators who are using the platform and working with brands, and Operators who have already launched the service. The sessions will take place on Monday 26th February between 14:00 and 15:00, and on Wednesday 28th February between 9:00 and 10:00. The third session will take place on Wednesday 28th February between 10:30 and 11:30 and will provide Operators with the chance to network with Vendors of both hosted and on-premise solutions for RCS. Attendees will have the opportunity to pose questions and establish contacts with RCS Leads from Google, Interop Technologies, Mavenir, Samsung, SummitTech, Syniverse and WIT who will present their offerings and current progress on RCS and Messaging as a Platform. Please register for one or more of these Information Sessions here.

The Innovation City will also devote considerable space to 5G. Among the most hotly anticipated events on the Mobile World Congress schedule this year are those considering the future of 5G. 5G is more than just a generational change from 4G. It is about more than just superfast broadband – it will change the way we view mobile connectivity, and transform our use of mobile technology. 5G mobile networks will create, for example, a step-change in how public services can respond to emergency situations. By equipping agencies with push to talk, video broadcasting and real-time feeds, 5G will improve efficiency in a truly transformative way. We’re also excited to partner with Alibaba and China Unicom who will be demonstrating how face and biometric recognition will create the ‘Office of the Future’.

Don’t miss the three 5G Remote Experiences, which will each showcase how 5G mobile networks will enable real-time communication and super-low latency response. In partnership with 5GUK – University of Surrey, Kings College London and University of Bristol – for the first time ever we will have a live 5G demonstration across two halls, allowing attendees to compete to be No. 1 on the leader board in our football competition, while experiencing the power of 5G latency through remote robotic technologies. Throw yourself into Space with 5G gaming in partnership with Korea Telecom. You’ll experience the power of the mobile network making truly immersive low-latency gaming a reality. And finally, don’t miss 5GIC and DoubleMe’s demo, where holoportation will be brought to life, enabling you to interact and communicate in real-time with remote parties via a 3D hologram.

One of the great questions before now has been over making business sense of this formidable technology; that it is all very well these gains being possible in a laboratory, but that to bring them to billions of people they must be deployed in an economical way. The answer to this question came in the form of network slicing, whereby operators can create what are essentially miniature private networks tailored to each client’s needs. With the industry now settling firmly on network slicing as the route to making 5G viable for the mass global market, there is much to discuss in terms of implementation.

We would therefore be delighted if you could join us for the Future Networks Seminar on 5G for Industry-Specific Services, on Monday 26th February between 13:30 and 15:30, where industry luminaries will discuss network slicing and more over the coming year in 5G.  Dr. Andreas Müller, Senior Expert and Project Manager at Bosch, will discuss how network slicing is helping 5G open up commercial opportunities in a range of industries, and where the major challenges may arise; Matt Stagg, Head of Mobile Video at EE, will expand on 5G’s potential in the Broadcasting, Media and Entertainment industry; Mike Wright, Group Managing Director of Networks at Telstra, will consider innovative use cases and their transformative effects;  Allan Cai, Senior Production Design Expert at Alibaba will outline best practice in integrating 5G to the future of retail; and Toyota’s Dr. Ryokichi Onishi and Kiichi Iwasaki will explain the likely impacts on the automotive industry.

5G will also be the focus of a series of two roundtables on Tuesday 27th February. Between 9:00 and 11:00 our LTE-Broadcast Roundtable will assemble representation from content providers, device, chipset and equipment vendors, and key LTE-broadcast operators. Topics of discussion will include addressing technical issues in networks and devices, promotion of innovative business models, and how the industry can overcome potential regulatory barriers. The Virtualisation Roundtable between 11:00 and 13:00 will explore collaborative action on widening the mobile virtual infrastructure ecosystem, and will cover standards, licensing and how the industry can manage cooperation between key vendors. To register your interest in attending these Roundtables, please contact futurenetworks@gsma.com.

To learn more about the Future Networks programme’s events at MWC 2018, please click here. You will find agendas and speaker information and will have the opportunity to pre-register your place at our Seminars and register your interest in attending RCS and 5G meetings.

You can also download our free MWC Event Guide here.