Tech giants forging the future
(Flare (Pakistan) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) We are living in the information society, and our next goal is the knowledge society, where everyone has the right to access information, to use information, to share information and to create information, says ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré
In a world where there are 6.3billion mobile users and 2.3billion internet users, the default access mode to broadband services is mobile. This trend will intensify as increasing urbanization will see 30 percent of the global population living on 1 percent of the global landmass accounting for 60 percent of all communications traffic
Setting the scene for the Leadership Summit, and indeed for the event as a whole, moderator Stuart Sharrock outlined the major transition the ICT industry is currently experiencing:
- The ICT industry is experiencing a major transition where new players, new services and new business models are coming into play
- Broadband is the principal enabler of the socio-economic benefits of the knowledge age
- Governments must reach out to and engage with the private sector to fund investment in infrastructure, ensure appropriate regulatory environments and tackle issues of security and privacy
- New business models must embrace and create value from data traffic as it outstrips voice
- Spectrum allocation must be fair and efficient, balancing social responsibility with data volumes
- Regulation must be targeted and light so as not to stifle innovation
Traditional service providers are seeing declining revenues, demand for services is rocketing, traffic growth is phenomenal - and it is many cases new global players offering over the top (OTT) services are benefiting at the expense of traditional telcos.
And this is happening within the context of a major shift in consumer usage, as instant messaging and social networking increasingly replace voice calls. "Voice is no longer cool," he said, reminding the leaders attending the session that, "the decline of the voice model which has served well for the past hundred years means a new model must be created, a new mechanism of communication and an industry structure serving that mechanism for the next one hundred year. Now is the time for leadership in creating that model for the future."
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré highlighted the importance of broadband networks and technologies as the enabler of that future:"We are living in the information society, and our next goal is the knowledge society, where everyone has the right to access information, to use information, to share information and to create information."
It is only by bringing together private sector investment and government vision that the right regulatory and legal environment can be created for broadband - and the knowledge society - to flourish. By exchanging views and best practices across public and private sectors at the very highest level at ITU Telecom World 2012 here in Dubai, we can share and multiply information, and avoid making mistakes that have already been made, or reinventing what has already been invented.
The need for the private sector to participate in the regulatory process was echoed by Mr Tanaka, who referred to the close cooperation of government and business in dealing with the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, where it private sector companies provided database lists and information services.
For Ulf Ewaldsson, in a world where there are 6.3billion mobile users and 2.3billion internet users, the default access mode to broadband services is mobile. This trend will intensify as increasing urbanization will see 30 percent of the global population living on 1 percent of the global landmass accounting for 60 percent of all communications traffic. Open innovation, he noted, is a key factor behind the explosive growth of the industry.
These open standards must be embraced as the industry moves through its current disruption, where data communications and media communications are merging with telecommunications as content is digitalized and the cloud makes its impact felt. Disruptive forces are changing everything," he said, "For the normal smartphone user, voice is just noise. Business models have to change to create value in telecoms and to provide a platform for network innovation".
Osman Sultan, CEO of Dubai-based operator du, reminded the audience that the transformation of the telecommunications industry has to a large extent happened by accident, as major game changers such as mobile telephony and social networking changed history through serendipity rather than strategic planning.
"We should keep in mind that we don't know what the future will look like - but as leaders we are obliged to try to figure out some guidelines", he said. Infrastructure will increasingly become a national asset, he predicted, as is happening already in countries such as Korea, Australia and Qatar; global governance will be necessary to allocate scarce resources and mitigate emergency and disaster relief. And, by sharing and collaborating across open platforms, we will be able to enjoy the enormous opportunities ahead.
Mr Romain Bausch, CEO of SES, agreed on the importance of open standards and collaboration, within which the satellite industry has long operated. Satellite technology has an important role to play in the convergence era of telecommunications, provided spectrum is allocated fairly and governments are encouraged to invest on a technology-neutral basis: "Telecoms can be efficient if private and public partnerships are combined, and if industry players take into account how different infrastructures can complement each other".
Global interoperability, all speakers agreed, remains vital, to ensure that multiple devices can continue to communicate with each other, and to enable new systems, applications and services to drive innovation and competition. The emergence of closed ecosystems based on new business models may place this interoperability in jeopardy: balancing competition and regulation calls for a "light-touch" regulation.
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