Smartphones galore made their debuts during this week's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. But the conference and expo that wrapped up today also saw the arrival of a variety of other cutting-edge mobile technologies, including a wide array of devices designed for the looming arrival of 5G connectivity.
Among the technologies that won Global Mobile Awards at the conference were new devices for 5G networking, apps for health, smart city applications, and accessibility innovations for the disabled. China's Huawei in particular walked away with awards in a large number of categories, including best network software breakthrough, best mobile innovation for emerging markets, and outstanding contribution to the mobile industry.
Organized by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a global industry organization for mobile operators, this year's Mobile World Congress reported more than 107,000 visitors from 205 countries, with exhibits from over 2,400 companies.
Ups -- and Some Downs -- for Huawei
Huawei won mobile tech awards in eight categories, with its 5G Core solution recognized as this year's best network software breakthrough. 5G Core is designed to help wireless service operators create advanced, application-defined networks and expand into new vertical markets via a "network-slice-as-a-commodity" model.
Other awards went to Huawei's family of 5G-ready ultra-wide-band radios, 5G-ready CloudAIR solution, narrow-band Internet-of-Things solution for smart cities, RuralStar connectivity solution, and zero-footprint TubeStar for easier deployment of network base stations in urban areas with limited space.
Despite the accolades, Huawei is feeling pressure about its inability to bring one technology in particular -- smartphones -- to the U.S. market. The company had eyed a launch in America this year, but those plans were dashed by a last-minute pullout by AT&T during CES 2018 in January. During a media roundtable in Barcelona earlier this week, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business, blamed those problems on competitors playing politics.
Awards for Security Tech, Health Apps, More
The Magic Box from Sprint and Airspan Networks shared the award for best mobile technology breakthrough with Huawei's CloudAIR. Designed to improve data coverage and network speeds for home users, the Magic Box is an all-wireless small cell that can be placed near a window to boost networking via a nearby Sprint cellular site.
The MWC award for best mobile authentication and security solution went to Evolved Intelligence for its Signalling Firewall, which prevents eavesdropping, hacking, and other network intrusions on mobile phones. Other technologies singled out for awards included "Smartify," an augmented reality app from Smartify and Accenture Interactive's MOBGEN; the Ada app for personal health; SK Telecom's LiveCare app for real-time livestock management; and Samsung Pay, which earned the best mobile innovation for payment award.
Mobile World Congress recognition also went to the U.K. city of Bristol, which won the smart city award, as well as to the Republic of Estonia, which won the government leadership award.
"Estonia has made excellent progress towards the digital transformation of its government services, based upon a robust digital identity for all citizens," the GSMA said in a statement. "Further, the panel was impressed by the focus on encouraging the take-up of mobile services in both the private and public sectors, particularly the fact that 95 per cent of government e-services are available through a mobile ID."
One of many tech organizations that has been urged to do more to improve opportunities and reduce obstacles for women, the GSMA today also planned to announce the winners of its Womens4Tech Leadership Awards.