As MWC has finally returned to its full pre-Covid format, the i2CAT Foundation could not miss the opportunity to be there again, participating in the biggest technology congress in the world. From February 27th to March 2nd, Fira de Barcelona Gran Vía hosted a new edition in which the Catalan centre focused on explaining how to get the most out of 5G architecture thanks to the knowledge and technologies generated by developing R&D projects in recent years.
The i2CAT booth also featured the work of its spin-off Neutroon, one of the first companies in the Catalan 5G industry, created in 2020 after more than five years of research to facilitate access to 5G technology for companies and local communities. Neutroon is the first Software as a Service (NaaS) that enables the management and orchestration of multiple distributed private networks, with the option to integrate different providers and technologies such as LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi. The platform incorporates a Customer Portal so companies can configure and manage the system independently and intuitively, including the networks and technologies. In addition, the platform can be scaled as the needs of the company increase or change.
During Mobile World Congress, visitors learned about the Nomad 5G, a pre-integrated edge and private 5G network solution encased in a box suitable for plane flights. The box can be customized for a tailored experience. It is prepared to deploy advanced 5G applications efficiently, as everything is already pre-provisioned in the Neutroon Cloud Platform.
Demonstrations, roundtables and expert talks by the i2CAT team
This edition of MWC, i2CAT, showcased a demonstration applied to autonomous mobility at the Parlem Telecom booth. The pilot, developed within the framework of the 5G Catalunya project and promoted by the Catalan operator, incorporated vehicular communication standards (V2X) within 5G protocols to facilitate the communication of different autonomous devices. A monitored vehicle received live and HQ images of areas outside its field of vision and information about incidents that may occur on its route so that it can act quickly in case of possible risk or obstacle. Within the project, i2CAT has developed artificial intelligence image recognition and vehicular communication applications. On the first day of the congress, the 5G Catalunya project was awarded a Foundry Excellence Award 2023 by the GSMA.
The Research and Innovation Policy and Strategy in Europe (RISE) area participated in three main events: a talk about the future of wireless connectivity, a discussion about Europe and Spain facing the challenge of connected mobility, and the presentation of the centre’s participation in European projects and activities. During his intervention to discuss Digital Sovereignty in Europe, Jesus Alonso-Zarate, director of the RISE area, stated, “The main challenge for 5G is to become a reality and disappear […] We need to simplify how all the actors involved in 5G work together. We need to see companies efficiently testing new technologies, and, on the other hand, we need researchers focused on research and not on the bureaucracy of getting funding. We need all this collective intelligence working together”
i2CAT was also present at 4YFN, where Barcelona Digital Talent prepared an AI and Big Data workshop in which Iván Huerta, Deep Learning Lead Research Engineer at the Distributed Artificial Intelligence team, participated.
Global technology to improve local communities
Despite MWC being a global event, the strength of the Catalan tech sector was very present. The Catalan Pavillion hosted 48 innovative local companies and organizations, including i2CAT, and booths like the Mobile World Capital devoted many activities to local initiatives to revitalize Catalonia with advanced digital technologies, such as Àrees 5G.
The project, in which i2CAT is the technical leader, already covers all rural areas of Catalonia to reduce the digital divide. At the Mobile World Capital stand, Rosa Paradell, director of the Innovation Business Development for the Public Sector, presented two of the pilots developed within the first two areas created:
MWC: the place for discussions about the future and collaborations to make it happen
5G and 6G were two of the main topics at this year’s MWC. Sergi Figuerola, CTIO of the centre, gave a keynote at the French Pavillion, which focused on i2CAT’s vital role in 5G trends and the vision for 6G. The leading Spanish broadcaster, RTVE, also counted on his expert opinion to further explore where 5G is going and what 6G means at this point.
This year’s edition was also a great place to have exciting meetings with people from around the world. i2CAT’s Managing Director, Joan Manel Martín, and the CTIO of the centre, Sergi Figuerola, alongside Artur Serra, director of the Digital Social Technologies area and deputy director, met with Robert J. Opp from the UNDP, to explore i2CAT’s model as an example to apply advanced technologies to its cooperation and development goals. The centre directors also met with the General Director of Telecommunications from Senegal. i2CAT’s booth was also visited by personalities from the Government of Catalonia, including the President, Pere Aragonés; the Minister of the Presidency, Laura Vilagrà; the Secretary of Telecommunications and Digital Society, Sergi Marcén; and the Director General of Digital Society, Liliana Arroyo.