Nº 10 2012 > ITU Telecom World 2012 | Special report
Focus on broadband
Challenging myths around mobile broadband, panellists considered alternative technologies and new business models for delivering next-generation network services.
For Roger Marks, President of Consensii LLC, fourth-generation (4G) mobile technology is adaptable and can fit all markets, bringing commonality and standardization. But Robert Swinnen, Vice-President and General Manager of Intel, argued that the prime concern for 75 per cent of the world’s population was covering access needs through infrastructure rather than implementing Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
Mark Summer, Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder of Inveneo, expressed excitement to see mobile operators and Internet service providers complementing each other in providing new technologies to meet end-user needs, and drive uptake, revenue, and ultimately sector growth. Mr Swinnen joined him in urging carriers to use the network, their core asset, to bring value by adopting a tiered approach to quality of service to meet the differing needs of different markets. Hybrid technologies and layered services offer flexibility, maximized bandwidth and added value.
Framework for competition
Discussing the challenge of raising funds to build infrastructure to provide broadband coverage in markets that are arguably unsustainable, such as rural areas, panellists agreed that some sort of hybrid mechanism — part private, part public — is required. “Governments are stewards. They provide vision, incentivize creation and provide funds from taxpayers”, said Rob Frieden, Professor of Telecommunications at the Pennsylvania State University.
Mohamed Al Mannai, CEO of Qatar National Broadband Network, shared the experience in his country. “In Qatar, we decided to build a national broadband network so that operators do not need to compete on infrastructure. They can compete on applications”.
Gabrielle Gauthey, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Alcatel-Lucent, outlined some misconceptions about the telecommunication industry. “There are some ideas about our sector that are wrong. First that it is rich and the private sector will sort everything out. The second is that it is not capital intensive. This is a very capital intensive industry”, she said.
Hakam Kanafani, CEO of Türk Telecom Group, agreed. “We are the only industry in the world where people expect the costs to drop”, he said. “We are giving voice away. I hope that this does not happen to data.” So-called “Internet freeloaders” are creating huge volumes of traffic that are impinging on quality of service, according to Mr Kanafani, who called on ITU to work on a framework that would help monetize data more effectively. “We want fair competition for fair traffic”, he said. “We want to develop sustainable business models so that quality of service is key”.
“I don’t think we need to stimulate demand for broadband,” said Mike Van Den Burgh, CEO of Gateway Communications. “Demand is virtually elastic as long as we can provide the facilities and environment”, he commented.
Karim Antonio Lesina, Vice President for International External Affairs at AT&T commented that long-term regulatory certainty was essential when planning investment. Mr Van Den Burgh agreed, stressing that “there has to be certainty of regulation and a reasonable return on investment.” For example, he considered that the 10 per cent tax on M-Pesa (mobile) payments that have been imposed would have a detrimental impact on broadband.
The regulator on the panel, Lolia Emakpore, Director of the Nigerian Communications Commission, said “We cannot leave it all to the market. We need regulation, but we always advocate light regulation”. The regulator has to ensure balance and fair play. “We need fair, consistent, stable and predictable sets of regulations”, she said.