Preparations are underway in Barcelona for the the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest gathering for the mobile industry, as companies launch their products at the weekend ahead of the opening on February 27 Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT. NO REPORTER NARRATION. Preparations were underway in Barcelona on Saturday (February 25) ahead of the annual Mobile World Congress as mobile technology companies began launching their new products at the weekend before the start of the event running from Monday (February 27) to Wednesday (March 1). Seeking to escape a cycle of falling prices and tight regulation, big telecom operators from Vimpelcom to Telefonica are set to reinvent themselves as internet players to escape the industry's straight-jacket of low growth. Next week's Mobile World Congress will feature phone companies in various stages of acceptance that the industry's predictable, decades-old business model based on selling data packages by the millions is running out of steam. Beneath the facade of shiny new phones and dusty debates over network technical implementations, Europe's largest annual technology fair will see top phone companies parading far-reaching business makeovers. Russian and emerging markets operator Vimpelcom is tearing up many parts of the telecom rule book to remake itself as a tech player in the fast-growing world of messaging apps. U.S. telecom giant AT&T has inked a series of huge deals to diversify by acquiring Direct TV for $67 billion and is awaiting approval to buy Time Warner for another $110 billion. Dramatic changes in the industry come as telcos brace to offer new networks ready to handle not just spiralling data use on phones but in cars, in factories and offices and even crop fields. The new generation of 5G networks will provide them new business options but also spells mounting competition from computer, internet and industrial players with digital plans of their own.