Telecoms bosses toasted the return of Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress. This is with an agenda to put the industry at the center of digital development. And also, due to this pandemic situation there is also inclusion in the global market.
Telecoms executives said that the pandemic had shown how vital connectivity for the people locked at home is mainly to those with access to the latest technology. It is also more for those the billions who lack it. The annual event which was cancelled last year due to the Covid, is now being held in a hybrid format with around 30,000 visitors and many others through online. In normal situation there will usually be more than 100,000.
Mats Granryd, head of the GSMA industry association said that they are back to business, back to Barcelona and back together. This association hosts the biggest telecoms get-together at the Catalan capital’s sprawling Fira trade fair grounds. Because of the pandemic crisis, there is an acceleration in the digitalization. The chiefs of Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange said that the cybersecurity and data governance are taking center stage, adding that building trust with consumers was the main key.
Stephane Richard, Orange CEO and GSMA chairman said in a keynote address from the event’s main stage that for too long progress in technology meant only advancement at any cost. But the real progress comes when they move towards an equitable future, not when they just make shiny new things. Telcos are hoping to capitalize on the social credit that is derived from their role connecting societies and individuals during the pandemic to position themselves as the good guys. This is after their high debt and weak revenues.
Telefonica CEO Jose-Maria Alvarez-Pallete said that the data cannot be extricated without compensation. And that is called digital dignity. The trio also called for an overhaul of regulation in the European Union, saying fragmentation across the 27-nation bloc put them at a disadvantage against rivals like Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service. Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges said that the connectivity today is needed. But the connectivity will be a human right, in 2030. With all the visitors following the safety measures for Covid, the industry hopes the event will create a blueprint for the future. But big names such as Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung are staying away this year.
Hoettges who joined by video link from the company’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany promised that next year Deutsche Telekom and all can be back again in Barcelona. Richard said that one third of European businesses had reported cyber-attacks last year. He added that the cybersecurity is a constant race that no-one can be protected any longer behind a closed digital wall. Most telcos are betting big on 5G. China Mobile Chairman Yang Jie said via video link that in China, 5G is on the fast track of development, with the deployment of nearly 850,000 5G base stations and 330 million 5G cell phone users. He also predicted that, by 2025 China’s digital economy would represent half of its GDP.