Nº 9 2013 > Forum programme themes
Day 3: 21 November
Satellite broadband services: opportunities and challenges
Broadband and ultra-broadband satellite services are experiencing high growth worldwide. Important milestones in North America and Europe are paralleled by interesting initiatives in developing regions such as Asia and Latin America. The Asia region in particular is seeing broadband services via satellite playing an increasingly important role in bridging its large digital divide. But growth in demand remains low, although service offerings are increasing. The stakeholders involved see high market potential, because a large volume of the population is not reached by terrestrial networks. But they also face the challenge of reaching these underserved market niches.
From smart solutions to smart city societies
The on-going development of smart cities can be seen as a continuous process, in which new techniques are constantly being implemented. For example, carbon-heavy options are being replaced by more environmentally friendly techniques, and waste and pollution are being recycled as energy. But municipal utilities have different priorities and challenges from those of their investor-owned counterparts. Today, all over the world, rapid urbanization is putting enormous stress on city resources and infrastructure. Many major cities are nearing the point at which they could easily become overwhelmed by crime, congestion, and the responsibility of ensuring public health and safety.
Thousands of smart city projects are under way worldwide, but hurdles such as technology, financing, policy and consumer engagement remain. The question that needs a quick answer is how to lower these barriers through education and outreach. A road map is needed to show the most effective way of moving forward.
Creating a smart city society requires a coordinated ecosystem to be put in place. As cities become smarter, the amount of data the city produces grows exponentially. Information is constantly being generated from traffic lights, sensors, meters, computers and more. Currently, this information is sent to different locations and organizations. Using advanced analytics programs, utilities have successfully added a level of intelligence and predictive value to this information. What are the lessons learned? What kinds of polices need to be imposed on smart buildings as part of a larger sustainability initiative? How would you build a future city?
Grids need to get smarter than smart
Smart grids and super grids are prerequisites to the integration of large-scale renewable energy in the future energy system. The success of the transition towards a sustainable energy system depends, to a large extent, on how existing and new energy systems fit together. Smart grid processes, integration and business models depend on advanced ICT infrastructure and technologies, in which smart meters will play a large part. Can today’s grids cope with the increasing demands placed upon them? How can next-generation intelligent grids fully support renewable energy, big data and small-scale power generation?
The world is a patchwork of different implementations. There is an urgent need for standards. Municipal utilities expect grid stability and security from next-generation smart grids. What is the future of energy storage and new technologies such as power-to-gas? What is needed in terms of innovation? What business models and regulation are needed?
The future of the Internet: big data, big brother, big technology, big telecommunication companies and big governments — or not?
Technology is progressing exponentially, and what sounded like science fiction only three years ago is now becoming a reality — Google Glass, self-driving cars, predictive search and anticipatory services, ultra-smart electronic agents and voice or gesture controlled devices, digital classrooms and affordable telepresence. The new currency of the global economy is data, and everyone seems to be scrambling to become the next Exxon-Mobil. Whoever controls the digital oil-fields, the pumps, the pipelines, the refineries and the filling stations is bound to become even more powerful than the oil companies.
The rapidly dawning Internet of Things and the rise of machine-to-machine (M2M) networks will magnify even further every challenge we have encountered up to now — and with increasing power comes increasing responsibility. Add the rapid developments in neuroscience, human-machine interfaces, artificial intelligence, robots and nanotechnology, and we are looking at the most amazing commercial opportunities as well as some quite vexing ethical challenges in the near future. What will happen to the Internet, telecommunications and telemedia, data, privacy and technology, and what scenarios are we likely to see globally? What strategies do we need to adopt to make sure that the new digital ecosystem puts human benefits first?
Connections, art, technology and society
Technology increasingly affects every aspect of human life, leading to a convergence of disciplines with a massive potential impact upon society. Art, science and technology are no longer discrete fields. Having always been an explorer, the artist is now also an engineer, experimenting with new technology, inspiring new realities, liaising between the digital world and the people.
As human interface devices become ever more prevalent, from the touchscreens and body monitors of today to tomorrow’s screenless devices and new forms of M2M communications, what moral and ethical questions are raised? How does the loss of boundaries between disciplines, between the expert and the end user, and between the public and the private sphere affect society? How important are cultural, societal and political differences with regard to the role of machines, robots and the digital world in general? Art has the power to hint at what the future of the human to digital relationship will be.
Smart mobility — connecting, integrating and commercializing transport in a smarter world
Personal mobility is key to the success and prosperity of every country’s economy. But growing populations in the world’s largest conurbations and increasing volumes of traffic are leading to paralysis. By intelligently and dynamically connecting modes of transport, such as cars or public transport, people can quickly and easily use different mobility models as needed to get where they are going. Integrated offers and new business models will be key to an emerging ecosystem that includes telecommunication companies and automobile vendors and manufacturers, as well as the transport sector and Internet companies. What are the trends, challenges and success patterns of introducing connected mobility offerings?
Impact of spectrum options on device availability
Finding spectrum to satisfy the growing demand for mobile data is getting ever more difficult. Timely release of spectrum in the right combination of low- and high-frequency bands is required to achieve national coverage of both urban and rural areas. Policy-makers in many countries are adopting a technology-neutral approach to free up spectrum such as the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands for long-term evolution (LTE) deployments, and many regulators are also looking at allocating digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband.
Although a wide variety of spectrum bands has been approved for LTE, the availability of commercially viable devices depends on the choice of primary bands in different regions of the world. Which are the key LTE bands for Asia and what is the likely availability of spectrum in the region? Adoption of the APT700 MHz band plan represents a major new opportunity for regional and global spectrum harmonization that could deliver the benefits of economies of scale for end-user devices. How does spectrum fragmentation affect device design, availability and the prospects for international roaming? What is the likely time-scale for the 700 MHz band to be brought widely into use for LTE mobile broadband services?
Future of broadband
Broadband access is a global success story. Citizens and governments view the digital economy as a driver of growth and development. This means that broadband is now part of the critical national infrastructure. Yet (according to PricewaterhouseCoopers) the telecommunication industry has failed to cover its cost of capital in the past decade. Too many resources are required, for too little value created. There is an infrastructure sustainability crisis.
The race to be first to market with each technology generation has resulted in a fixation on peak bandwidth. However, what is of value is not a supply of bandwidth, but rather fit-for-purpose services that meet user expectations. How can a demand-led industry put broadband back onto a sustainable growth path? What changes to network design, marketing and operations will lead to future success?
Big data and cities — towards data-driven governance
According to political scientist James C. Scott, one of the central problems of statecraft is to make a society legible — in order to govern, one has to know where things and people are. Since mobile-phone services, credit cards, and other socio-technical systems are so closely connected to our daily lives, their “digital exhaust” becomes an increasingly valuable resource for observing the processes and interactions of society. In many ways, the repositories associated with big data are like an unlined landfill — filled with the residues and byproducts of unrelated processes.
But there is also a need for citizens to make sense of what is going on around them. The classic democratic obligation to rigorously inform oneself in order to participate in public affairs has become almost impossible to fulfil. Visualization has a role in urban governance, for example in the controversies around waste infrastructure. Accountability technologies encompass citizen-driven practices of distributed data collection, the collective analysis through visualization of these data, and ultimately their strategic use in the public discourse, in the legal system or in political processes.
Balancing competition and subsidies in broadband promotion
The positive impacts of broadband for national economies are well known. Governments around the world are focusing on broadband promotion. What is the role of competition, the primary driver of the mobile voice success story? Are the subsidies that are being deployed as elements of the strategies efficient? What is the appropriate balance between infrastructure deployment and stimulation of demand? Lessons can be learned from a range of country experiences, in particular the possibility of leapfrogging to broadband deployment in countries with low overall connectivity.
Mobile cloud networks
Innovative services and products over the next decade will be strongly driven by cloud computing technologies. Research on cloud technologies will need to address challenges such as radio access in the cloud, new opportunities for sharing of infrastructure, open source, software-defined networks (SDN), new content delivery networks (CDN), and information-centric networks (ICN). Globally, green requirements, performance and scalability, and their related impacts on policy, regulation and standardization, will also need to be addressed.
Telecommunication networks need to be prepared for the requirements coming from cloud services, in order to be able to transport information in an effective and efficient way. The cloud concept is being brought into network architectures by introducing virtualization into all signal processing and information storage in the networks, and by replacing current network node functionalities by the service provision concept. Game developers, network operators, OTT content providers and community operators will have a big role to play in these new paradigms. What are we likely to see in terms of innovation, standardization, business models and implementation?
The spectrum struggle in Asia: technological convergence challenges to the satellite industry
The Asia region offers the biggest market opportunities for most telecommunication stakeholders worldwide, with room for all types of networks and services — fixed, mobile, satellite, and broadcasting. The search is on for new spectrum to provide such services. The satellite sector is fully involved in these discussions, as part of the agenda of the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015 (WRC‑15). How can satellite operators handle the search for new spectrum for their services? At WRC‑15, how will they be able to manage the competition from other services for spectrum, in particular in the C, X, Ku and Ka bands?
3D printing: boon for global innovation or Napster moment for the manufacturing industry?
The development of 3D printing has already brought us to the cusp of a manufacturing revolution with a profound but as yet uncertain impact on daily life. The prototyping era beginning now is empowering the end user, enabling us to personalize, to tweak design parameters, and potentially to copy any object — from a mobile phone cover to a tennis shoe. How does the process actually work and what materials are currently being used? What are the wider implications for the manufacturing industry, and for ownership and intellectual property versus open source shared knowledge? To what extent can we draw parallels to the music industry and content community, struggling to control distribution and move to access models? 3D printing is here to stay: the critical question is how we embrace this revolution.
The summaries in this section are based on the ITU Telecom World 2013 Forum programme available at http://www.itu.int/online/tlc/WORLD2013/forum/fp?event=wt2013&_sort=D