ITU TELECOM World 2012 Brought together the key players across the globe to shape ICT future
ITU is the leading United Natiovns agency for information and communication technology. For over 145 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. ITU provides a platform to its members to deliberates on issues including broadband networks, new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology, converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies.
ITU also organizes worldwide and regional exhibitions and forums, bringing representatives of government and the telecommunications and ICT industry to exchange ideas, knowledge and technology. ITU Telecom World is considered as a leading platform for the global ICT community to meet, connect, discuss, share knowledge and build solutions to the most urgent challenges facing our world.
ITU Telecom World 2012 brought togethe
r ICT stakeholders from across the entire industry ecosystem in Dubai from 14-18 October at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Over 300 world leaders, including Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, national ambassadors, heads of regulatory agencies, and CEOs from big business, technology companies, manufacturers, operators, content and application providers.
The event hosted over 40 sessions featured Ministerial Roundtables, Leadership Summits, Presidential Session, Visionary Keynotes, workshops and interactive panel discussions, with participants encouraged to put forward their questions. It focused on debates, discussions and conversations on the radical transformation of the ICT sector, the implications for policy, technology and competitive strategy – and the importance of ensuring that connectivity in a transformed world is universal, fair, open and secure. Innovation, Broadband, Connectivity, Smart Applications and Designing the Future remained the key theme areas for ITU World Telecom 2012. The event was proudly hosted by Telecommunications Regulatory A
uthority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates.
Day 1, October 14
The day started with the conference opening ceremony where Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunications Union, extended his thanks to the host city of Dubai. During his speech, Dr Touré reiterated the ITU’s aim to roll out broadband to every corner of the world, using the transformative DNA of ICT solutions for a better, brighter, more prosperous world.
“The future that lies before us is promising, characterized only by change as the only constant,” said Dr Touré. “I have not met anyone who questions the dynamic of the time. Mobile broadband, M2M, fiber optics and social networks define today’s networks. With six billion mobile subscribers and 2.3 million internet users, the stage is set for a technology driven life.”
Mohamed Bin Ahmed Al Qamzi, Chairman, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, UAE, Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, CEO, Etisalat Group, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Saud Al-Thani, Chairman, Qtel Group was among the other speakers during the opening ceremony.
The day also staged
a number of workshops on emergency communications, next generation broadband networks and LTE. The participants offered a number of actions that, in their experience, have proved effective in leveraging technology to mitigate with prevent natural disasters, bring high speed data connectivity and enhance mobile services.
The Leadership Summit focused on future of ICT. The attendees agreed that global interoperability remains vital to ensure that multiple devices can continue to communicate with each other, to enable new systems, applications and services and drive innovation. 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.
Mohamed Al-Ghanim, Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority from host country the United Arab Emirates, UAE, pointed to an upcoming ITU event that his country will host as a possible opportunity to advance the future discussion.
“WCIT in Decembe
r is an opportunity to put these issues on the table, said Ghanim, we need a global solution to these problems.’’
Maximizing shareholder value should be obtained by keeping in mind the long- and short-term interests of society, by establishing customer-centric models and by treating employees fairly, according to Mr Khalid al Ghoneim, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s STC Group. Acknowledging the need to engage with the current disruption of the industry, he said, “If you are not part of this change, you will be eaten by the change.”
On the first day of ITU Telecom World 2012, the finalists of ITU’s Young Innovators competition also met up with their patrons and set up their stands at an exclusive InnovatorSpace.
Day 2, October 15
The day started with opening panel session as an official start of the event, featuring dignitaries and representatives of the Leadership Summit. Dr Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré welcomed the coming together of public, private and regulatory sectors, with agendas a
nd perspectives that complement, but also conflict with each other.
During the leadership summit on innovation, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Vice President of Nigeria spoke of the importance of ITU Telecom World 2012 in bringing together public and private sectors with thought leaders, the shapers of future technologies and major media stakeholders in the global innovative city of Dubai to discuss, share knowledge and build ICT solutions to the urgent challenges facing the world.
The second leadership
summit of the day highlighted the importance of ICT to save lives. Representatives from satellite companies Immarsat, Iridium, SATMEX and Thuraya gave examples of some of the technical advances they have made that can be of use in a disaster, including many technologies focused on disaster detection, warning and prevention.
As part of the session, Dr Toure gave a number of humanitarian awards from the ITU-Development Bureau to the following government ministries, companies and individual including The Ministry of Industry (Canada), The Ministry for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy(Australia), Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya and a personal award for humanitarian efforts was also given to consultant, Navin Kapila.
The regional CEOs roundtable invited major industry executives from the Middle Eastern region to carry a lively deliberation and exchange of ideas from the industry prospective. Osman Sultan, CEO of du, acknowledged the disruption currently being experienced by the industry, calling for it to taken seriously – but also seen as a source of exciting new opportunities.
“We are all witnessing pressure on our top line revenues as OTT players monetize more – and we find ourselves at the forefront of sector investment, but no longer at the forefront of revenue,” he said, echoing a common sentiment amongst delegates at ITU Telecom World 2012.
Mohamed Bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Batelco, Bahrain, saw the need to reinvent and to change the way investment is monetized, with two distinct possibilities: collaborating with OTT players to allow access to the network, or simply move to becoming an OTT player.
Khaled Al Ghoneim, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s STC Group, highlighted the need to provide sufficient bandwidth to meet the human right to communication cost effectively. The layered or tiered approach would see operators attracting revenue from premium services to a minority on top of basic provision at low or no cost.
The day also staged Panel discussions on Cloud Computing, Mobile Broadband, and Benefits of Open Source Technologies followed by a visionary key note by Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and CEO of anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab.
Day 3, October 16
The Day 3 started with Big Conversation with BBC on Privacy, Trust and Innovation. Panelists share their view on the ambiguities as to who owns data, which can or should control
information on the web and how open source fits within innovation and IP: these are the fault lines of the internet society, driving lack of trust and privacy concerns.
The day also called on Governments and ICT businesses to Ministerial Roundtable on “The Importance of Women in ICT”. Representing the government of Costa Rica, Health Minister Daisy Maria Corrales Diaz called for increased inclusion of women both horizontally and vertically, building on the success of countries such as Costa Rica itself, where female participation in the workforce has risen from 20% in the 1970s to 39.4% now. ICTs are vital to reach women in their homes, in particular in rural areas, and drive economic prosperity.
Introduced as the person who had brought the Internet to Tunisia, Khédija Ghariani, Secretary General of the Arab Information and Communication Technology Organisation, said, “We must encourage women to reach posts at the level decision makers, in government and in the private sector- and then we will see results that are truly extraordinary.”
Hessa Sultan Al-Jaber, Secretary General of ictQATAR, concluded a lively and positive session with a passionate appeal for society in general to respect for women and girls, as without this respect, no amount of education, career progression and empowerment will see real progress. “Change must come from within society, from within communities and from within women themselves. Parents, raise your children equally!”
In the second Ministerial Roundtable on ‘International Internet Access and Tax’, communications and technology ministers and industry leaders from across the world gathered. Ministers present largely accepted the position, though they also noted that taxation levels are sadly not always within the powers of the communications and technology ministries.
“There is a problem with the minister of communication and the ministry of finance,” said Minister for Uganda Ruhakana Rugunda, “One wants low taxes to facilitate growth but the
finance minister is more senior and he wants to raise money.”
During a Panel discussion on addressing the spectrum challenges, GSM Association Director General Anne Bouverot called on operators, governments and regulators to work together to free up spectrum through the digital dividend, refarming or technology neutrality as “We need a lot of spectrum for consumers to do what they want to do with mobile devices and for economies to benefit from that.” Competition is welcome as a means to encourage growth and reduce costs for consumers.
The Day’s visionary Keynote speech was given by Anders Lindblad, President and CEO Middle East, Ericsson. According to Anders Lindblad, his company Ericsson is at the cutting edge of this transformation, working towards a fully networked society. “The interesting thing is that we [ICTs] are entering new ecosystems – health care, education, security and so on,” said Mr Lindblad, “so we really need to change our mindset.”
Day 4, October 17
At the Big conversation at the 4rth Day, panelists asked whether telcos should embrace OTTs or fight to resist them. Telcos have traditionally seen OTTs as something to fight against, sucking away telco revenues, using their networks to offer customers competing services for free. However, panelists at the Big Conversations, moderated by Guy Daniels from TelecomTV, agree that OTTs offer an opportunity not to be missed.
Luis Romero, Director General of European Telecom, offered some caution, reminding the audience that the value of the underlying network should not be forgotten.
“OTT is the next great step, but we have to be very careful of how we place the value of everything,” said Mr Romero. “Access is something we take for granted, but there is a lot of value in access and we tend to forget about it.”
Ministers and government regulatory body representatives gathered to discuss issues surrounding digital television migration in their respective countries. John Sydney Nkoma Director General of the Tanzania Regulatory Authority explained that his country has decided to shorten the dual broadcasting period, thus bringing forward the switch to digital and saving costs.
“Migration from analogue to digital means the release of some spectrum,” said Tifatul Sembiring, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia. “We have not determined yet what to use that released spectrum for, but will use it for advancing information and technology for the benefit of all the people of Indonesia.”
During the course of the day, panelists on the session ‘From Smart Services to Smart Societies’ agreed that government and business have to work together to make smart cities a reality, but there were some divergent views on whether their long term success has to be a bottom up or top down approach.
Different definitions of innovation set the scene for a very animated session debate on ‘Innovation in the Telecom System’. Peter Bruck, Chairman of the World Summit Award, claimed that innovation in the Mark Zuckerberg era was a vastly different beast. “The telecoms sector is out of date and the ecosystem is collapsing – innovation has moved from infrastructure and speed to applications and knowledge, and we need to understand what this means.” It is more than bright ideas, bright people, capital and markets, he continued: the single most important factor in successful innovation is localization.
The day also featured joining of the finalists of the ITU Young Innovators in a stimulating debate on enabling successful innovation in the ICT sector was an engaged high-level panel drawn from industry, government, UN agencies and academia.
The day also announced a new partnership between the ITU and the World Health Organization (WHO) focused on using mobile technology to combat non-communicable diseases in a session describe as “serious-minded people in a small room making big things happen.”
Day 5, October 18
The last day of the event hosted Panel Sessions on ‘Networks with a Human Face’ and ‘Are we really Secure’. The panelist urged that designing the networks of the future is a task that must be begun now – and must take into consideration the need for a more human-centric approach, and for sustainability at the level of networks as well as that of business model. On the issues of security, the experts were of the view that we are not secure on the Internet or in the physical world. In fact, the boom in connectivity and globalization means that we are becoming less secure.
The event was formally concluded by a forum closing conversation and award ceremony. The International Telecommunication Union announced that Bangkok, Thailand, would host the 2013 ITU World Telecom Forum.
Teletimes International brings this post conference report while attending the ITU World Telecom 2012 along with GITEX Technology Week as a media partner.