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Top 10 mobile stories of 2018

As 5G moves from theory to practical reality, we look back at Computer Weekly’s biggest mobile stories from the past 12 months

The word on everybody’s lips in 2018 was 5G, and 2018 was without doubt the year in which the future mobile network standard went from theory to practical reality, with standards ratified, test networks up and running, and even some early-stage 5G-like services being launched to consumers in some markets.

However, it was not all 5G all the time. As we shall see, there is still plenty of life left in 4G, while from the CIO’s perspective concerns around network security and mobility management strategy will always persist.

Meanwhile, the news agenda threw up some surprises, as always, with Brexit set to affect mobile operators, controversy over the government’s Emergency Services Network mobile project persisting, a major network outage throwing O2 offline for a whole day, and even a full-blown diplomatic row.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 mobile stories of 2018.

1. The great 5G bake-off: Where are we and where are we going?

Ahead of Mobile World Congress 2018, we began the year with an in-depth look at progress around 5G, as more network standards began to be formalised and testbeds were set up at the Winter Olympics.

2. The future of 5G mobile networks: support and development

In the second part of our in-depth look at the world of 5G, we looked into progress in the UK, and asked how the government and industry could work together to help UK plc exploit the potential of 5G to full advantage.

3. Getting a handle on mobile security in your enterprise

With mobility now a key aspect of IT deployments across virtually every enterprise, it should be no surprise to anybody that mobile represents a major security risk. In this feature, we explored how mobile device management strategies can help keep your business secure.

4. Will Brexit really bring the return of mobile roaming charges?

In March, as Theresa May committed to quitting the EU’s digital single market alongside Brexit, heralding the potential re-introduction of mobile roaming charges, we asked if business travellers and holidaymakers might be doomed to a return to the bad old days?

5. The walking dead: Is there life left in 4G mobile networks?

5G may have generated the column inches in 2018, but of course that doesn’t mean 4G mobile networks have just shut down. We looked at how, and why, the existing mobile standard remains a force in networking.

6. How to find the right mobility strategy for your SME

When budgets are tight, as they are for most SMEs, having a mobile strategy may seem an extravagance. However, most businesses use a mobile device in one way or another, so maximising their usefulness is a must. But how?

7. Rural areas will be among the first to get Vodafone 5G

With the race to 5G hotting up, all four of the UK’s mobile operators made grand pronouncements about their plans this year. Most are targeting high-density urban roll-outs, but on a visit to Vodafone’s HQ in Newbury, we found out that the operator is planning something a little different.

8. Home Office ‘seriously’ considered ESN shutdown

The long-running controversy surrounding the troubled Emergency Services Network project rumbled on in 2018. With accusations flying and the Public Accounts Committee taking the programme’s owners at the Home Office to task on multiple occasions, it later emerged that the government considered dropping the project altogether.

9. BT moves to strip Huawei kit from EE’s network

Thanks in part to US president Donald Trump’s foreign policy posture, questions over Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government blew up into an international incident in 2018, and the UK was not immune, as it emerged BT was to begin work to strip Huawei’s network hardware out of EE’s core 4G mobile network, and would not include the Chinese supplier in any future 5G roll-out.

10. O2 outage highlights importance of software certificate audits

Any operator’s worst nightmare is to lose connectivity across their 4G network for a whole day, and at the beginning of December 2018, the nightmare came true for O2 in the UK, thanks to its supplier Ericsson, which had failed to update expired software licences on core mobile network nodes. We assessed the impact.

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