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Mobile World Congress Americas in LA Makes More Sense Than You Think

As the city of angels embraces innovation and the new technology revolution, its playing host to MWC Americas seems logical in the digital world.

Los Angeles: known for endless sunshine, the 405, celebrities driving electric cars, media and entertainment studios dotting the landscape, shopping on Rodeo Drive, and now the home for Mobile World Congress Americas. At first glance, it may seem like an odd location for such a large telecommunications event, but think more broadly and it actually makes perfect sense.

The telecommunications industry is just one piece of a large technology revolution that has rapidly expanded to touch virtually every aspect of our lives. The larger technology shift has grown to include content creators, IoT device manufacturers, analytics tools, artificial intelligence, smart cities and other aspects, all of which now converge together as part of a larger connected ecosystem. That ecosystem requires a solid, reliable network at the core, and as 5G becomes a reality, network performance becomes a critical enabler of what is and what will be.

What does Los Angeles bring to the table? It represents a city that wants to become smarter in the way it manages traffic by using IoT sensors and predictive analytics. It highlights a city that wants to revolutionize the way it educates youth. It shows us a government that runs a city with a population greater than countries like Sweden and Norway. It represents a city with more than 40 different public departments.

Los Angeles has invested in a project called GeoHub, which replicates much of what a large service provider does as part of a digital transformation: it links data sources from across departments together into a centralized business intelligence system. It then allows staff, the public and outside agencies to access, visualize and analyze real-time data. This collaborative nature allows different city departments, Los Angeles county users, as well as state and federal government agencies to interact with and contribute data. GeoHub represents a knowledge-centric data strategy, linked by the network, to make the city more operationally efficient. Just three months after launching the hub, Los Angeles is reported making more proactive public safety decisions, improving infrastructure and, ultimately, improving the quality of life for its residents. The smart city model sounds like something most service providers would like to participate in and emulate internally.

Los Angeles also symbolizes content, with virtually every media and entertainment provider having some sort of footprint in the greater metropolitan area. For the telecommunications and cable industries, digital content—whether delivered directly or via an OTT provider—is the lifeblood for most service offerings. While some cable providers may consider content secondary to connectivity these days, content represents the potential for differentiated service bundles to meet evolving customer demands. Virtually every studio now has a mobile strategy, whether via a direct-to-consumer delivery method through an app or via a relationship with certain service providers, e.g., AT&T partnering with HBO or T-Mobile partnering with Netflix. This will only get more interesting as 5G networks roll out, putting cable companies on notice.

While the visions of traffic and surfing the Pacific waves may be top of mind for most when they think of the city of angels, Los Angeles is actually a great representation of a city that embraces the positive impacts of a new technology revolution. What could be a better place for a conference that focuses on all these issues?