Insights and Perspectives from Mobility Live! North America

LiSuan Poh

Last week, I attended Mobility Live! — an event partnership between GSMA and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. It was a whirlwind of speakers, discussion, and moving from one session to the next. There was a tremendous amount of compelling content and conversation. I’m thrilled to share my key takeaways from some of these sessions.

The first day was focused primarily on mobile trends, video usage, cyber security, smart cities, Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Conversational Agents (message bots), mobile marketing, media, and digital health. These topics touched on the key trends in mobile and each session dealt with “what’s next,” while examining key questions.

Day two took a different turn, covering 5G, the FCC Commissioner’s viewpoint on spectrum, the fan experience in Philips Arena, the connected home, connected cars, mobile video usage, the internet of location, brands-go-mobile, and mobile payment.



GSMA’s CMO, Michael O’Hara, provided an opening address that discussed a few key statistics of the mobile usage in North America:

  • There are 284 million mobile phone subscribers, out of which 55% are on 4G
  • North America has 75% smartphone adoption, which is the highest in the world
  • 75% of data traffic is expected to be video by 2020
  • The mobile economy is around 3.6% of GDP (or around $710 Billion) and expected to rise to $1 Trillion by 2020
  • 3 Million jobs were created by the mobile economy
  • GSMA publishes The Mobile Economy— the 2016 report was just released this month


Hala covered the many great things the city of Atlanta is doing, including putting together a comprehensive ecosystem of universities, large corporations, and vibrant start-ups. She also went through examples of companies relocating their technology or development organizations to Atlanta, citing Honeywell as an example. A statistic I found interesting is that there are 24,000 mobile development jobs in the Atlanta area.


Glenn spoke twice, about the state of the industry, and also about media and content strategies, with an emphasis on the explosion of cloud computing, networking, and data usage. Some of his insights:

  • In the future, networks will be software-defined, virtual, cloud-based, and secure
  • Data usage will grow exponentially (My notes from his presentation suggest it is $15.4 Billion now with projected growth at $75.4 Billion by 2025)
  • Internet of Things (IOT) will continue its trajectory through Connected Cars, Industrial, Home, Smart Cities, and security will be important for each stack
  • Integrated customer experience is key to being successful with next-generation mobile trends


This was a dynamic session, with great Q&A, and panelists that offered compelling use cases with an industry focus, in repairs and maintenance of high value machinery. It was clear they have worked through real world examples with clients, adopting and making practical use of VR/Google Glass.


The Smart Cities session shared Atlanta’s work and AT&T’s experience with Smart Cities, with the participants characterizing the “whys,” advantages and benefits of Smart Cities, as well as targeting the main concerns of city residents — namely, transportation and public safety. The city of Atlanta is trying new methods of private and public partnerships in order to enable a Smart City framework.



FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel touched on the first incentivize auction of low bandwidth 600 Mhz, where broadcasters are incentivized to return spectrum they are not using and, in return, being able to share in the proceeds of the spectrum sale to licensed carriers.

When asked about the unlicensed spectrum space and the burgeoning use of Wi-fi, Rosenworcel stated that the FCC will look at addressing some spectrum in each of the low, mid and high bands for unlicensed use (think Wi-fi).


Philips Arena’s Peter Sorckoff and Boingo’s Doug Lodder shared lessons learned in enabling Philips Arena to have peak fan experiences. Philips Arena’s thoughtfulness is impressive, as is the deep analysis there are undertaking in order to best understand and optimize the fan experience.


All of the panelists resonated with the trend of going towards using voice and natural language to interact with the connected home. The session showcased Amazon Alexa experiences, individual use cases by Flex’s experience (which was voice activated as well), and IHG’s experience with a proof of concept— the use case was targeted towards wowing the user and making travel easier.

Panelists shared their experiences of interacting with the connected home via spoken words that are natural and the ease of use of that interface. Panelists mulled over the “what ifs” for future improvements, such as a thermostat knowing how to adjust when a user says, “I am cold.”


Mobile content and video are exploding in use. Authentication and authorization continue to be a big deal— enabling users to get hold of their content in an easier manner. Panelists talked about how the traditional model of advertising is eroding as the adoption rate of a Netflix-like model escalates. This led to the topic of relevant advertising and the inevitable turn off of non-relevant ads. When they are in context and personalized (relevant), they’re always better received. Panelists also talked about their view of the future, with some anticipating a consolidation of content providers.


The most interesting use case of this panel was Sensewhere’s adoption by China’s Tencent (which is a bit like WhatsApp, Amazon, social media, and mobile payment all rolled into one). By using Sensewhere’s location technology Tencent can ascertain where they user is, they can get a firmer grasp on adoption and how and where the app is leveraged.

Panelists went on to discuss how fundamental location is, and use cases that touched on Big Data adoption. An interesting comment here— though this “sensing” technology is used to sense where the user is, it is not a technology that is sensitive enough to tell a user where a can of soup is in the grocery— that is another scale of location technology.

In summary, these events are a great reminder of the swiftness of technology and the many companies out there leading the charge. I left excited and determined to help my clients be a part of that leading curve.