MWC 2023 Insights: Revving up the Pace of 5G Innovation

March 14, 2023

Mobile World Congress returned this year as a full in-person event. Over 190 countries represented by operators, vendors, and industry analysts converged in Barcelona to experience the latest telecommunications industry innovation under Velocity’s overarching theme to describe the pace at which technology is revolutionizing the industry. An industry that already connects 5.4 billion people worldwide, approximately 70% of the population.

At the event, we saw Xiaomi robots — CyberOne and CyberDog (although CyberDog was the only one that moved). French telecom Orange demonstrated its metaverse demonstration, where users were transported to a futuristic neon-hued technoscape with lightning bolts, giant robots, and a falcon carrying a green orb. Visitors to Vodafone’s booth could also enter the metaverse and fly a real-life 5G-connected drone in Seville, 830 kilometers away. In addition, the father of the cell phone, Martin Cooper, was honored as the first recipient of the GLOMO Lifetime Achievement Award. At the same time, Nokia redesigned its logo after nearly 60 years. Another GLOMO winner was Rakuten Symphony for Symworld Cloud in the Best Cloud Solution category.

New figures from GSMA Intelligence published during MWC show that 5G connections are expected to double over the next two years, expedited by technological innovations and new network deployments in more than 30 countries in 2023 alone. Fifteen of these will be 5G Standalone networks. So, it’s unsurprising that 5G was the event’s focus, with additional discussions around the mobile edge, open RAN, and private networking. Many announcements were made by telecom operators and vendors around enterprise solutions, with Cisco and Intel joining forces on Private 5G Adoption. While IBM announced that it had extended its relationship with Nokia with plans for the two companies to offer a seamless, simplified private 5G managed service offering, delivering private 5G solutions on IBM Cloud Satellite to enterprise customers.

We identified three key themes at the event that are all interconnected and will drive innovation in the telecom industry in 2023 and beyond.

Building on the cloud

As we mentioned in a recent blog, cloud adoption continues to gain pace. At the event, operators and hyperscalers all had significant announcements. Google Cloud announced three new telecom products for the network transformation for automation, data collection, and AI. At the same time, Microsoft announced the next wave of Azure for operators, named Microsoft Azure Operator Nexus, and said that AT&T was now a public Azure Operator Nexus platform user.

Rakuten Symphony continues to win business for its cloud platform with several announcements at MWC, from signing an MoU to Develop Next-Gen Telco Network with Zain KSA to being selected by Axiata Enterprise to Deliver Enterprise and Private Network Services Across Six Asian Countries.

However, most of the talk was around the cloud, taking the technology to the next level and opening it up to the world as a unified connectivity platform for innovation. One particular announcement was the new industry-wide initiative called GSMA Open Gateway, which aims to attract the application developer community to the 5G cloud. Already, twenty-one telecom operators are backing the initiative: America Movil, AT&T, Axiata, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, e& Group, KDDI, KT, Liberty Global, MTN, Orange, Singtel, Swisscom, STC, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, Telecom Italia (TIM), Verizon and Vodafone.

The initiative has already launched with eight universal network APIs developed, with additional APIs set to launch this year. José María Álvarez-Pallete López, chairman and CEO of Telefónica and GSMA board chairman, commented, “By federating open network APIs and applying the roaming concept of interoperability, mobile operators and cloud services will be truly integrated to enable a new world of opportunity. Collaboration amongst telecom operators and cloud providers is crucial in this new digital ecosystem.”

Assurance takeaway

As operators roll out 5G and disaggregate network functions, they must adopt a cloud-native approach to automated assurance so that the solution can seamlessly integrate into the 5G core and be instantiated, deployed, and scaled automatically. This will enable operators to adopt a more intelligent and automated system that uses built-in artificial intelligence and open APIs to stream real-time data insights and integrates into Kubernetes to control the assurance components. This tight integration of service assurance as part of the operators’ cloud will enable services to be monitored in real-time, proactively prevent business impacts, and drive network automation.

Network automation is critical

A clear message from the event was that operators said that network automation is no longer an option but essential for 5G and high on the list of priorities. Hyperscalers focused a lot on automation tools for operators, with Google Cloud offering automation tools based on Kubernetes and industry learnings from Nephio, an open-source project in partnership with The Linux Foundation. At the same time, Orange unveiled the results of Europe’s first experimental end-to-end 5G Standalone network, Pikeo, as part of this operator’s journey towards software and data-based, fully-automated networks. In contrast, Lenovo announced the next generation of ThinkEdge remote automation and orchestration to accelerate the deployment of edge solutions.

Assurance takeaway

With a crystal-clear message that automation is mandatory, operators must begin the 5G transformation with the right foundational tools in place from the start. Building network automation on top after the fact without the proper foundation will lead to significant challenges. So, operators must deploy automated assurance solutions at the beginning of the 5G transition to ensure they have end-to-end visibility and AI-powered analytics to drive automation and manage the network according to the customer experience.   

Driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI)

ChatGPT and generative AI, in general, were the top talking points at MWC. Another AI trend was the increased focus on Edge AI. This is deploying AI applications near the user at the network’s edge rather than centrally. Intel showcased its AI Edge Platform, which enables developers to build and deploy AI applications at the edge.

AI was also mentioned in several keynotes, including HTC China president Alvin Wang Graylin and Telefonica CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete. They touted AI’s capabilities to transform networks and make telecom more software than hardware-based. Telefónica even had a demonstration called “Making Smart Agro Happen,” which showed how applying IoT, AI, and the cloud could improve precision agriculture and smart irrigation.

There was, of course, lots of announcements and discussion around analytics platform that utilize AI to help develop, grow, and optimize networks with intelligence to empower great customer experiences and service innovation.

Assurance takeaway

Saving engineers time and prioritizing tasks by deploying AI in a telecom network is an obvious step in driving automation. However, for the telecom industry, it’s not just a case of taking lots of data scientists and asking them to run a few algorithms and sort out all the issues on the network. The success of applying AI in telecom networks depends on domain knowledge. Operators must choose an automated assurance vendor with deep telecom domain expertise and built-in AI. Once operators have vendors with domain expertise, they can gain a wide range of automated insights. Including anomaly detection and automated root cause analysis that identifies outliers, groups the data by the correct dimensions (devices, network elements, interfaces, etc.), and correlates the data while pinpointing where issues are. With domain knowledge and built-in AI, assurance can resolve complicated issues like audio gaps in VoNR calls, low MOS after Fallback (VoNR to VoLTE handover), and registrations failing.  



MWC 2023 highlighted that the key to 5G is the cloud (for both RAN and the core) and network automation (powered by AI). This will deliver a new era of innovation while ensuring excellent customer experiences for subscribers and ushering in a more intelligent network for 5G and beyond. And we’ll all sing along with Bruce Springsteen, glory days!

For operators looking to adopt an automated 5G assurance solution, RADCOM provides real-time subscriber and network analytics. At the same time, RADCOM’s AI capabilities offer completely automated learning and insights to detect network anomalies automatically and identify the root cause. These automated insights enable operators to transition to a closed-loop approach to network operations, resolving problems faster and delivering excellent customer experiences sooner. Smartly monitor your data in real-time to proactively resolve customer experience issues before they impact your business.

RADCOM announced the Virtualized Network Operations Center (vNOC), enabled by the latest version of RADCOM ACE that redefines network operations through extensive automation and 5G analytics. This helps operators drive down costs and make network teams more efficient while improving customer services for premium services like roaming, private networks, video streaming, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), Internet of Things (IoT), and Voice over New-Radio (VoNR).

RADCOM also announced the Telecom industry’s first Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) in production. RADCOM partnered with Rakuten Mobile in Japan to deliver closed-loop automation using AI-powered 5G analytics. The NWDAF solution automatically analyzes the network and takes corrective actions to enhance the customer experience and prevent service degradation.

Learn more about our automated assurance solution for 5G by visiting, and we’ll see you again at MWC 2024.

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