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Outside of Metaverse, expect 5G to make further inroads as consumers finally make up their minds to 'really' make use of their 5G-enabled smartphones. Image Credit: Shutterstock

While businesses the world over are likely to encounter many challenges over the next 12-24 months – from inflation and economic uncertainty to regional conflicts, supply chain constraints, and a shortage of skilled workers – we expect them to retain a sharp focus on automating key processes. And transforming workplaces, improving customer experiences, and increasing corporate resiliency. Indeed, IDC research shows that 81 per cent of organizations are still prioritizing connectivity programs as they strive to facilitate these goals.

Later this month, the global mobile technology ecosystem will gather in Barcelona, Spain, for the largest and most influential connectivity event in the world, the Mobile World Congress (MWC). With more than 2,000 exhibitors and tens of thousands of the industry’s most influential senior executives in attendance, the event is influential in determining where the future of connectivity is heading.

But what are the key trends that are likely to be shaping discussions at MWC 2023? Below, we take a look.


While the idea of the Metaverse was seemingly overhyped throughout much of 2022, the concept will likely remain central to many of the conversations taking place at MWC 2023. Indeed, the idea of persistent virtual worlds for consumers and businesses is still a valid long-term vision the industry is striving for.

This likely won’t manifest itself as a world like we saw in the novel – and subsequent film – ‘Ready Player One’ yet, but instead as niche ecosystems that cater to unique demographic segments. An example of this is the recent rise of Bondee, an app targeting the youth demographic in Southeast Asia.

IDC predicts that by 2027 the Metaverse will account for 70 per cent of annual media traffic growth on the internet, with consumer and business use cases driving increased bandwidth demand. At the same time, hardware vendors are also eager to develop new products for the Metaverse, especially after seeing categories like smartphones contracting 11 per cent in 2022.

Headset adoption will mostly be contained to gaming on the consumer side for now. There is RoI potential for businesses in use cases like training simulations and remote assistance, but there are still challenges around battery life, display quality, and overall comfort that need to be addressed.


OpenRAN will undoubtedly be a frequent topic of discussion at MWC 2023. Much of the debate will center on what exactly qualifies as OpenRAN and whether OpenRAN has been a success or failure. The importance of OpenRAN and the overall opening up of the mobile network stems from the fact that operators are increasingly looking to embrace new approaches to building their networks and delivering new types of services.

With an open network, mobile operators can build their networks using best-of-breed vendors; this will bring levels of network and service innovation not found with the current single vendor RAN approach to the mobile network.

5G acceleration

While 5G has been in customers’ hands for a few years now, it is only just beginning to impact the enterprise space. Indeed, IDC predicts that by 2025, only 30 per cent of organizations will benefit from defined 5G use cases due to fragmentation and lack of leadership among connectivity, technology, and managed services providers. How to overcome these challenges will be a key theme at MWC 2023.

To date, early adoption has been driven by consumer uptake, with customers increasingly opting to purchase 5G handsets. At the same time, this has been buoyed by pan-national rollouts of 5G base stations, which is expected to continue as telecom operators invest to create the underlying coverage that 5G connectivity will rely on throughout the 2020s.

In tandem with consumer-based initiatives, telecom operators are increasingly turning their attention to the enterprise market, which affords new revenue opportunities to deliver enterprise-grade wireless connectivity. In turn, this should accelerate 5G’s impact on the broader connectivity market.

Digital everything

Ubiquitous connectivity and the expansion of digital technologies will be important topics at MWC 2023. The Internet of Things (IoT), private mobile networks, and multi-access edge compute (MEC) are all catalysts for Industry 4.0 and opening new use cases in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and other vertical markets.

Many non-terrestrial network (NTN) organizations are partnering traditional communications service providers to address coverage requirements in remote locations and further enhance connectivity.