Nº 9 2013 > Forum programme themes
Day 4: 22 November
Telecommunication innovation: time to pivot?
The language we use defines the horizons of our imagination. The telecommunication industry places a myopic focus on “coms” in its business model. Now it is time to shift mindsets from the delivery of “coms” to one of enabling “tele”. From an innovation perspective, the industry is defining its offering too narrowly as digital engagement over a distance. It must pivot to serve the broader needs of teleconsumers and tele-enterprises alike, engaging in relationships, learning, services and commerce across physical and virtual boundaries.
The transition from analogue to digital television (with its higher spectrum efficiency) permits a significant reduction in the amount of spectrum required for terrestrial broadcasting. In response to the exponential traffic growth associated with the use of smartphones, this digital dividend is generally allocated to mobile services.
This major change in spectrum use poses questions for regulators and governments. How can the transition from analogue to digital television be best achieved? How can the reallocation of spectrum to mobile services be ensured in a timely manner in order to promote broadband access for all? What should be done to benefit from economies of scale in worldwide roaming through the adoption of international spectrum harmonization? How should television white spaces be dealt with during and after the transition to digital television? What are the best ways of using television white spaces to promote broadband for all? International regulations (in particular those that arise from WRC‑15 decisions) might be able to assist in addressing these challenges.
Back to the future: what the digital back-office must deliver
The digital landscape will evolve over the coming years with significant implications for service providers of information technology (IT). What strategies are major service providers pursuing in terms of centralization, virtualized services and cloud? What are the key business models and digital services to watch, and what will these services demand from IT? Where must the industry collaborate if it is to be part of an open, vibrant digital world?
Spectrum for the future
The pressure on spectrum resulting from the exponential growth of mobile services raises a number of challenges for governments and regulators, who are in charge of managing spectrum. How can the spectrum requirements of government and commercial services be balanced in order to achieve a sustainable use of spectrum? How can the spectrum requirements of licence-exempt services (for example Wi-Fi) and licensed services (such as mobile networks) be balanced to promote the widest development of broadband services at an affordable price? How can the spectrum requirements of terrestrial and space services be balanced? How can the use of more spectrally efficient technologies be promoted without disrupting existing investments? Again, international regulations (in particular those that arise from WRC‑15 decisions) are expected to provide some answers to these questions.
Funding and pricing of next-generation broadband networks
National fibre and LTE networks are being rolled out in a number of areas. In other places, the debate rages as to how such networks should be funded, and how much consumers are prepared to pay for faster broadband services.
Continuing penetration of smart mobile devices and applications has squeezed spectrum, and the industry has developed various solutions to alleviate the growing spectrum needs. For example, equipment players are developing new products such as small cells, some operators are pushing for network or spectrum sharing and Wi‑Fi offloading, and regulatory bodies are reviewing the use of new spectrum bands. These solutions have regulatory and commercial implications for future network architecture.
Delivering broadband to rural areas
There are many technologies available to provide rural areas with broadband access to the global ICT network and its services. What are the most appropriate ones to enable rural areas around the world to use the advantages of broadband access in a cost-efficient and reliable way? What are the regulatory and commercial implications of different technology options? How can the potential barriers of spectrum, funding and project management best be addressed?
Cooperative creation of global standards
The time has come to establish the conditions for true cooperative creation of global standards in telecommunications in order to cope in a timely and efficient manner with the challenges raised by ever faster developments in information and communication technologies and innovative services. What is the most appropriate platform for cooperation to guarantee sustainable functioning of global as well as local telecommunication networks and services?
Many faces of mobile financial services
Being connected at all times and in all places with practically everybody and everything has many implications in our lives. It makes digitization of our lives possible, practical and profound. It shakes established value chains and moves power from existing players to potential new ones. Financial services are no exception to that trend. To what extent has the ubiquity of communications already changed financial services and the way they are consumed? And what is to be expected in the future?
Multimedia over multiple media: convergence in broadband access
Operators have been, until now, largely engaged in the incremental improvement of their existing facilities, with systems such as DSL and DOCSIS. Some operators have taken the plunge to deploy an entirely new network (fibre) to achieve greater access speeds. Several efforts are currently under way to design a new kind of access network that uses fibre and copper or wireless together. It is hoped that this synergistic combination will make true broadband more affordable and accessible.
Discovering new relevance for ITU in a multistakeholder world — the lessons of WCIT‑12
The World Conference on International Telecommunications in 2012 (WCIT‑12) re-assessed the need for formal international regulation in the midst of the free market forces which had grown up over the preceding 24 years. The outcomes provided some valuable pointers to future opportunities for ITU in moving to the next phase of its evolution in serving its membership and building on its strengths. An important watershed event will be the Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014 where the debate on ITU’s new relevance will continue.
Forum closing conversation
What has been learned about opportunities arising from the transformation of the ICT sector — from the perspectives of technology, business and policy? What are the challenges and potential of new business models in areas such as voice, network virtualization, and data? What new frameworks are there for regulation and standardization, and what new approaches should be taken to spectrum requirements and data privacy? What are the implications of new technologies and smart solutions?
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