What to expect from European operators at MWC 2023

With the biggest trade show in the telecoms calendar kicking off next Monday, here’s a sneak peak of what some of the main European telco groups will be showcasing in the halls of La Fira in Barcelona.

Andrew Wooden

February 22, 2023

5 Min Read
What to expect from European operators at MWC 2023

With Mobile World Congress – the biggest trade show in the telecoms calendar – kicking off next Monday, here’s a sneak peak at what the main European telco groups will be showcasing in the halls of the Fira Gran Via.

Deutsche Telekom’s teleoperated car

The German telco group is marching to MWC under the theme “giving technology a heartbeat”, we’re told, and ‘in doing so, it is emphasizing its aspiration and commitment to a positive future, designed with empathy for people and the environment.’ Which sounds just lovely.

More specifically, the firm will be showing off various products and prototypes and giving talks on how telecoms can become more resilient and environmentally friendly, and how we will be interacting with AI in the future.

It will also be showing off the fruits of a team up with Ericsson and Vay around ‘teleoperated driving’, which will involve remotely operating a vehicle in Berlin from a ‘teledrive’ station at Ericsson’s stand at MWC, optimized with 5G managed latency using L4S.  The pitch goes:

“Imagine a transport service where an unoccupied electric vehicle turns up outside your home exactly when you need it, you drive it to your destination, you get out and go about your business. No parking. Just a convenient and affordable door-to-door service.”

In other words, it’s the general vision of autonomous driving which has been banded about for years now but seems to be struggling to manifest itself. Having someone operate the car remotely may be a simpler thing to implement than handing the car over to an AI entirely, but it does seem that the journey could be completed using same amount of people and labour than if someone just got behind the wheel of the car – but one to watch regardless.











Orange’s virtual running machine

French telco group Orange will pepper it’s stand with some bombastic use cases for 5G. these include an ‘immersive run’ which is held in a 30 square meter dome, with a 360 degree screen and spatial audio system – which ‘immerses visitors into the runner’s mental space’, we’re told. Scenes of Paris captured by photogrammetry will be displayed and body tracking cameras and a real-time data processing system located in the dome ‘will give visitors a unique experience.’

An ‘immersive entertainment zone’ is all about watching live events remotely via VR. As Orange describes it: “Four visitors wearing a VR headset will be immersed into a metaverse universe and will be joined by another participant, who will be located in the Orange shop in Malaga (almost 1,000 km away). A dancer, located on the Orange stand at MWC and wearing a motion-capture suit will guide the group in this metaverse universe. The dancer’s movements will be transmitted in real-time thanks to 5G’s ultra-reliable low latency.”

There’s also a tablet which is supposed to enable the blind and visually impaired to follow sports games via touch. It works through a magnetic disc which mirrors the movements of the ball across the pitch in real time either via 5G in stadiums or over WiFi at home.

The will also be some industry 4.0 and cybersecurity wares being presented at the Orange stand, as well Gany – ‘a marketing robot running on 5G that can be used at events to increase brand awareness.’










Vodafone’s 5G drone

Vodafone will be inviting visitors to fly a 5G-connected drone located in Seville 830kms away using a Meta Quest Pro VR headset, in order to show off some metaverse/network Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs) it is developing. Aside from giving MWC goers the chance to play with a neat toy, the idea is something like this could be used by emergency services to control drones to deliver medical, farmers to inspect perimeter fences, or energy firms to check remote power lines.

Vodafone recently announced a prototype gizmo that can apparently act as a private 5G network – the innovation being that it is running off of a credit card sized Raspberry Pi computer within the housing, giving it both a small form factor price. This may be waved around at the Vodafone stand as well.



Telefonica makes various things happen  

Spanish telco group Telefonica says it is heading to MWC with an ‘innovative and comprehensive proposal that will showcase the transformative power of telecommunications in the new digital era.’ It has a big old stand at the show and will be stuffing it with use cases of connectivity tech promising to do no less than improve society as a whole.

It will achieve this lofty goal with five thematic demo spaces. ‘Making Network as a Service happen’ will demonstrate work it is doing on its networks to make them ‘interoperable and programmable platforms’ through open and standardised APIs, while ‘Making Holographic Telepresence happen’ will demonstrate how 5G, edge computing and fibre technologies will enable – you guessed it –  holographic telepresence, otherwise known as hologram calls.

‘Making Smart Agro happen’ and ‘Making Smart Industry happen’ will demonstrate how IoT, 5G, data analytics could be utilised to do things like precision farming and make factories more efficient through monitoring minute activity of machines. All of which we have heard before so it will be interesting to see if there is something novel being described this year.

Finally the ‘Making Metaverse happen’ demo will allow MWC goers the chance to check out web3 and metaverse stuff through the ‘Movistar Immersive Experience’ app. Again, waxing lyrical about the metaverse is nothing new, so the key will be what is fresh Telefonica’s stand.




There are a gazillion firms at MWC and they will all be selling and chatting about different things, so identifying key themes is always something of a generalisation by definition. And these are just teasers from the main European telco groups which have chosen to let us peak behind the curtain.

But with that caveat sufficiently laboured, we seem to be in for a mix of familiar metaverse and 5G bombast without very practical use cases. This will be interspersed with some fresher ideas, such as what operators are doing with APIs on their networks, possibly garnished with a few high-resolution concepts of what driverless cars and autonomous drones might look like in real life.


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About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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