Nº 9 2013 > Editorial
ITU Telecom World 2013
One conversation not to be missed
Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary‑General
On behalf of ITU, its 193 Member States and more than 700 Sector Members and Associates from industry, international and regional organizations, and Academia, it gives me great pleasure to welcome participants to ITU Telecom World 2013, which is hosted this year by Thailand, in Bangkok, one of Asia’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities.
Conversation is at the heart of ITU Telecom World 2013. It gives me great hope for the future of the information and communication technology industry to see international experts exchanging ideas and opinions with the audience both in the room and online. The formats and topics are diverse, but the debate is always passionate, informed and engaged.
Here as elsewhere in the world, we are seeing a continuing revolution in the information and communication technology sector. The shift to Internet protocol (IP)-based services is shaking the foundations of communication systems as we know them. We need to understand these changes, work out how to grow with them, and benefit from them.
ITU Telecom World 2013 explores the theme of “Embracing change in a digital world”. The interactive panel sessions, workshops and showfloor sessions focus on five major areas of change:
- Changing user behaviour as people increasingly interact and communicate via social media and data apps rather than voice or face-to-face.
- Shifting industry dynamics as new web-based companies compete with telecommunication operators and flourish, playing by different rules.
- Changing business models and spaces thrown up by the exceptional opportunities in machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things, enabling socio-economic development on an unprecedented scale.
- Emerging new technologies such as halo nets, embedded Wi-Fi chips and unlimited low-cost processing and storage, creating a singularity where human life will be irreversibly transformed.
- The pressing need for new standardization and regulatory approaches to allow for the evolving realities of new players, markets and technologies.
The event brings together a wide audience from the public and private sectors. Heads of State and Government, ministers, policy-makers and regulators meet industry CEOs from operators, vendors, service providers and content developers. Innovators, big thinkers and influential advisors are all here. And so are the media.
The world-class Forum covers an extensive range of topics and offers interactive discussion among high-quality speakers. Panellists are selected as experts in their fields to offer informed opinions from the contrasting perspectives of government, business and technology. Innovative solutions, business models and partnerships emerge from the debate, as participants share knowledge, experience and best practice.
The showfloor at ITU Telecom World 2013 enables national and thematic pavilions and industry stands to showcase the best of products, technologies, investment opportunities and partnerships from around the world. In the InnovationSpace, the finalists of the Young Innovators Competition 2013 pitch their winning ideas on creating real-life, ICT-based solutions to development challenges. Here also The Lab demonstrates fascinating new ideas and cutting-edge solutions at the nexus of art, technology and society — the future in action.
But all talk of the future envisages an enabling environment for our industry to flourish. Policy and regulatory environments established a solid foundation for the development of mobile services around the world. We now need to repeat the feat in broadband, despite the increased complexity that technology convergence and rapid innovation bring. It is time for all countries to rise to the challenge.
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, co-founded by ITU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010, provides valuable guidance for the development of ICT, and especially broadband. Its most recent report “The State of Broadband 2013” sets out a number of policy recommendations for developing broadband and maximizing its impact. The Commission has demonstrated the importance of broadband in accelerating progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals as well as being an essential driver of progress in the post-2015 development agenda.
We still have far to go. As we move into 2014, two-thirds of the people in developing countries will still be offline, with no access to the Internet at all. The picture is even worse in least-developed countries — home to some 890 million people, of whom 818 million will still be without any form of Internet access. But in this huge challenge lies a huge opportunity — to do business and to see real and lasting progress delivered, not just in the capital cities, but in the world’s most rural and remote areas as well.
We are already seeing technological progress on a scale never before imagined — particularly with the astonishing arrival of mobile broadband, the fastest-growing technology in human history. ITU predicts that by the end of 2013, there will be close to 2.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.
It took 125 years to reach the first billion fixed-line subscriptions globally — and we are very unlikely ever to reach the second billion. But it took just nine years to reach the first billion mobile broadband subscriptions — and it took only two more years to reach the second billion.
Having seen the tremendous progress over the recent years, I am confident that our industry will seize the opportunity and employ the transformative power of ICT to accelerate development. So as our world continues to go digital, let us continue doing this great work — and let us embrace the change.