On 26 February, tens of thousands of world’s most influential leaders and some of the largest organisations within the mobile telecoms industry will gather in Barcelona for the 2024 Mobile World Congress (MWC) to make important decisions about the future of the industry.

Long established as the leading annual touchpoint for the global connectivity ecosystem, the event will draw mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors, content owners and anyone interested in the future of technology.

While the event will explore wider topics, global mobile network operators’ industry organisation and the event’s organiser, the GSMA, outlines the top trends that will form the basis for many of the discussions in the next week.

Generative AI

The effect of generative AI on telcos will be a hot topic this year, as it has been on every other industry. Whilst generative AI only became mainstream in 2023, telcos are still in the early stages of recognising use cases for the technology. Having had 2023 to reflect on and learn about the potential of generative AI, MWC 2024 is likely to host much discussion about its future in the telco industry. Real world Gen AI commercialisation in 2024 may help to solve operators’ two biggest concerns: RoI and tech maturity, according to the GSMA.

Additionally, generative AI could also impact another top trends at this year’s MWC, the future of entertainment with its potential impact on the entertainment and creative industries.


5G has the potential to disrupt nearly every part of the telco industry. By 2030, 5G will account for nearly half of all mobile connections worldwide. However, one major problem facing telcos is the monetisation of 5G and this will continue to be a hot topic.

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Fixed wireless access is a standout success of 5G monetisation, enabling better mobile connectivity even in rural and remote areas and will also be a focus for discussion. While fixed wireless access remains largely a consumer area, according to the GSMA it is “very much an additive to mobile broadband services”. Fixed wireless access could, according to the GSMA, push 5G into developing markets and promote connectivity around the world. 

In addition, 5Gs new standard, Release 18 specifications, will progress and advance rollout of 5G, hoping to more than double the amount of IoT (internet of things) connections from 10 billion in 2018 to 25 billion by 2025 – and is another area to watch closely.

Cloud and edge

Describing cloud versus edge as a “false dichotomy”, the GSMA anticipates discussions at this year’s MWC about how cloud and edge technologies can work in harmony. This will also be partly driven by the growth in 5G technology, as the growth of 5G will require a huge scale up in cloud native architecture. 5G B2B aspirations require both edge and cloud assets in order to meet user demands, according to the GSMA as increasing emphasis on cloud AND edge will be needed to support businesses. 


By mid 2023, around 400 operators in over 100 countries had released eSIMs of their own. This trend has continued into 2024. Despite the momentum behind eSIMs, many more operators have yet to release an eSIM. While consumer acceleration is expected from 2026 onwards, according to the GSMA, 2024 will be critical for setting that up.

Sustainability and the circular economy

Sustainability and circularity will continue to be a hot topic for all businesses in 2024 and beyond, with telcos embracing sustainability beyond energy efficiency. Creating a circular economy and focusing on the lifetime of devices and device repair has also become a top priority. According to the GSMA, the conversation in 2024 has grown to include circularity, use of renewables and consumer sentiment, underscoring the breadth – and importance – of the topic.