What’s up with... MWC, Broadband Forum, Nokia, Electricity meters, Infovista, O2

  • GSMA thinks it will attract 50,000 to MWC in June
  • Broadband Forum has a new 'get out of jail' card for copper
  • Nokia wins in Austria
  • Electricity meters are gaining ground in North America

MWC in June, 2021. We’ll see you there... not!”

In a demonstration of the power of wishful thinking over objective reality, the GSMA has announced that this year's Mobile World Congress will take place in Barcelona in June, primarily as a physical event with a virtual adjunct. 

Not only that, John Hoffman, the CEO of GSMA Ltd., claims on the organisation's Mobile World Live site that some 40,000 to 50,000 attendees will be there in person! 

His, what we shall charitably refer to as "deluded optimism", seems horribly misplaced given that Spain in general, and Barcelona in particular, has been hard hit by Covid-19, that there are 12,000 new cases and 400 deaths a day across the country and that the vaccination programme, such as it is, is partial and very slow at just 65,000 inoculations in every 24 hours. Hospitals and health services are under immense stress while travel and other social restrictions are all encompassing and continuing. Will all such be waived for MWC 2021? Will all visitors have been vaccinated? 

Surely not.

In less than four months. will 50,000 masked people, almost every one an international traveller, turn up to mix it at the Fira? Get real. 

First off, how will people get to Barcelona and where will they stay? Secondly, who will authorise or instruct them to go to a place of danger, likely infection and possible death? Thirdly who would obey any such instruction? Imagine the court cases and class action suits if/when attendees are infected. And what about daily travel to and from the show, movement within the venue itself and around Barcelona in the evenings? Even with less than  half of the usual number of visitors there, keeping 2 metres apart from one another will be a practical impossibility. 

What about air circulation in the halls? What about the queues to enter and leave the venue? 

The GSMA says that 72 hours prior to arrival in Barcelona visitors will have to provide evidence of having taken a Covid-19 test and being negative for infection. It adds that there will be testing facilities available at the Fira - but what will happen when someone tests positive? Mass quarantine for tens of thousands of delegates? 

The GSM says stewards will be in place to "control crowd density". How effective will they be? They never have been in the past. Also promised is a "touchless environment" which will be impossible to achieve except in a virtual event. 

Perhaps most astonishing of all is John Hoffman's apparent belief that because the circus is in town, Covid-19 will pack its tent and steal away into the night for the duration of the show. His rallying cry is that we should "move away from the effects of Covid-19 and return to something normal" and says, "Our view is it would be great if the world was vaccinated, but we can’t rely on that in 2021 so instead we’re relying on testing upfront to ensure our bubble isn’t just the Fira Gran Via but the whole of Barcelona." 


It is not going to happen. We're all longing to get back to normal but pitching up en masse to participate in a potential super-spreader event at the height of the worst global pandemic in more than a century is not a route back to the way things used to be.

Good old traditional copper might be lying down but it's certainly not dead yet. Indeed it is enjoying a surge in popularity thanks in part to Fibre To The Extension Point. FTTeP is yet one more tortured acronym in an industry plagued by them but, as a new report by the Broadband Forum shows, the underlying technology permits service providers to deploy fibre-quality, fibre-grade services by sweating capabilities and tolerances of the the last feet of copper infrastructure to extend the reach of fibre cabling (and the speed of its layout) with no concomitant loss of quality. It means extant copper cabling that has been in place for many decades can once more be pressed into improved action at much lower cost than taking fibre directly into the home. 

Nokia has won a multi-year contract to supply Austria’s A1 with its AirScale portfolio including 5G RAN,   base stations and  radio access products. A1  also intends to launch 4G and 5G network slicing with continuity between the networks, supporting both 4G and 5G devices and connecting with applications running in private and public clouds.

Berg Insight reports that the penetration of smart electricity meters in North America reached 68 per cent in 2020. Over the next five years it calculates the penetration of smart meters in the US will grow to reach a level of 84 per cent while the respective figure for the more advanced Canadian market will reach 92 per cent. 

Infovista claims its latest update to its Ipanema Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) platform delivers on two important features currently mostly lacking in the SD-WAN market: both a true “pay as you go" model and a “flex up and down” consumption solution with self-provisioning and automated upscaling of capacity as needed.

The UK’s O2 has been researching and surveying again and has found that nearly a third of Brits say they are ready to spend again once lockdown lifts. But...  only a little bit. Half of those surveyed (49%) say they’ve become MORE cautious about spending since the start of the pandemic. So hardly surprisingly, it found that 70 per cent are still wary about planning ahead and the majority (57%) aren’t looking further than a month in advance when it comes to planning things that could impact their finances. O2 is emphasising its flexible contracts to attract those uncertain spenders.

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