Network equipment providers were in full voice, as they espoused the wonders of 5G on day one of MWC 2019

The CEO’s of Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei were in a bullish mood, as MWC 2019 ushered in the beginning of the 5G era.  

So, there are no prizes for guessing that 5G would be the star of this year’s show, with network equipment providers clamouring to flog their wares as the world prepares for the first 5G rollouts later this year. 

First up was Nokia’s CEO Rajeev Suri, who was keen to stress that his firm was the only one to be available in all geographies across the world.

“Nokia arrives at Mobile World Congress as a world leader in 5G, with the industry’s only end-to-end portfolio that is available in all markets around the world.  We are remarkably well-positioned with more than 20 5G contracts, and almost 100 5G engagements with customers in every region of the world.  

"2019 will be a big year for 5G and Nokia stands ready and able to deliver for customers everywhere. 5G is a truly transformational technology that will improve people’s lives, increase productivity and efficiency and enhance the sustainability of our planet," Suri said. 

Never ones to be outdone by its Scandinavian rivals, Ericsson was also adamant that 2019 would be a transformative year for mobile networks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his company’s success in the US market, Ericsson’s CEO, Börje Ekholm, said that he expected the first wave of 5G rollouts to come from the US. 

“We are truly switching on 5G around the world in 2019,” he said. “Consumers and enterprises are waiting for 5G,” Ekholm said. “According to Ericsson ConsumerLab research, one-third of smartphone users globally will change either immediately or within six months to a service provider that switches on 5G. Today, the US and Asia are leading in 5G development.”

With 10 commercial 5G deals under their belt and an impressive 42 MoUs signed with operators around the world, Ericsson looks in good shape to capitalise on 5G in 2019.  

Given the tumultuous year that Huawei is having, they could have been forgiven for keeping a low profile at MWC 2019 and waiting for it all to blow over. To their credit, Huawei has met its detractors head on, unveiling a bevvy of 5G tech at this year’s show, including its much-anticipated Mate X 5G smartphone handset. 

“Our message is this: In 2019, 5G is on! Let’s work together to push things forward,” said Huawei’s CEO for the Consumer Business Group, Ryan Ding. 

Huawei has signed 30 commercial rollout agreements across the world, 18 of which are in Europe, 9 in the Middle East and 3 in Asia Pacific. The company has already shipped 40,000 base stations to the market and is involved in 39 international research and development partnerships, making it the world’s biggest investor in 5G.