INTERVIEW: David Pollington, Senior Director Technology, GSMA

INTERVIEW: David Pollington, Senior Director Technology, GSMAWe are less than one month away from Mobile World Congress 2018 – the world’s premiere mobile technology congress hosted in Barcelona by the GSMA. Gearing up for our live event coverage, Mobile ID World President Peter O’Neill recently spoke with David Pollington, Senior Director Technology at GSMA. The conversation opens on the topic of Mobile World Congress’ impeccable growth as a conference year-over-year, and a few survival tips for MWC first-timers. Pollington talks about some of the new technologies we can expect to see take the spotlight at this year’s Congress, like blockchain and 5G, before speaking about the mobile industry innovations stoked by the conference’s annual GLOMO Awards. The interview concludes with a preview of the over arching theme we can expect to emerge for the keynotes at MWC 2018.

Read our full interview with David Pollington, Senior Director Technology, GSMA:


Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World (MIDW): David, this will be my fourth year reporting from the show floor in Barcelona. Every year, it is where I go to see cutting-edge technology, robotics, IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, connected living, VR, mobile ID, and of course security and biometrics. In fact, the number of biometric companies participating at Mobile World Congress keeps growing every year. What’s driving this kind of growth for the GSMA and the Mobile World Congress?

David Pollington, Senior Director Technology, GSMA: MWC just grows from strength to strength, year on year, and this year it’s going to be even bigger, as you’d expect. There’s going to be a lot of new focalizing as well as people like yourself that have been many years before. I think one of the key factors behind this growth is just the expansion of mobile into every corner of everything that we do in our day-to-day lives. So, because of that, we saw the automotive industry coming in two to three years ago, we’ve got drones, we’ve go security and biometrics. Every year there are sort of new facets that are being mobilized and then being accommodated within the sphere of everything that we do in the Congress. So this year as you’ve already pointed out, some of the topics are going to be big topics that everyone is going to be discussing.

MIDW: With over 2,800 exhibitors, and 100,000 attendees, how do you recommend a first-time attendee attack your show?

GSMA: Know who you want to see and where they are in the venue. Know the layout of the halls – you do not want to be running between Hall 1 and Hall 8 as it is over a kilometre! Go to as many of the networking events as you can – details can be found on the MWC website and also via the myMWC App. Most importantly wear comfortable shoes!

MIDW: What other new technologies are you excited about this year besides, of course, biometrics. What about blockchain, neural nets, drones, machine learning, what’s exciting you this year?

GSMA: Obviously blockchain has been around for a while, but I think now people are starting to really show, in terms of understanding, where it can add value to really understand how distributive ledger technologies and blockchain really have a place. Over and above that at the show this year there will be a lot around 5G, around data connectivity, bringing together heterogeneous networks – so basically this pervasive connectivity wherever you go with all of your devices. And naturally to follow on from that is the amount of data that’s going to be produced, and what does that mean now in terms of big data, data science, data mining, using machine learning, deep learning, to really be able to do something with this data.

There’s a whole range of different activities, and some of the most exciting stuff is looking at how some of this information can be used from mobile networks applications… to understand how best to react in terms of some kind of catastrophe, a disease outbreak, etc. So, I think the whole industry now is moving to this stage where there is going to be a lot of data, that can then open up a whole range of new opportunities.

MIDW: Very exciting. And for the third year in-a-row this year, Peter Counter, our managing editor, will be involved as a judge with your very prestigious Global Mobile Awards program- the GLOMO Awards. Can you please tell our readers about the significance of these awards that are presented at a gala in Barcelona?

GSMA: From my perspective as a technologist, I did see some fantastic stuff coming through. There’s a lot of innovation, a lot of creativity and these awards are really important within the industry, they really do showcase what’s cutting edge and what’s really coming through. So, they’re fiercely competitive, we have a lot of entrances since we first gave awards. They’re the lucky winners that really then stood up in some big space, to be able to give the eyeball or visibility to what they’ve done, and be able to talk about it. So, absolutely, a fundamental part of the show.

MIDW: Finally, new keynote speakers have been announced recently, can you give us a quick update as to some of the keynotes, what caught my eye was the head of the FCC and the US president of the World Bank is going to be speaking, the CEO of the United Nations Foundation. Can you tell us a little bit more there?

GSMA: There are some key things that GSMA are very proud of in terms of the gender diversity, the ethnic diversity across the keynote speakers, and we have a very high proportion of women that are coming to do the keynotes this year. So, I think that’s one of the key things that we would emphasize is around ensuring that we are inclusive in trying to get everybody involved in the show.

MIDW: Thank you very much for taking the time to tell us about this year’s Mobile World Congress. I look forward to meeting you at Innovation City for our annual podcast from the show floor there.

GSMA: Absolutely, Peter. Very much looking forward to it.