By Chris Donkin

Paul Rasmussen

GSMA, Telefonica bosses call for digital shake-up

GSMA Director General Mats Granryd emphasised the need for authorities to release timely and affordably priced spectrum to stimulate rapid and sustainable growth of 5G and the transformative use cases it will support.

Opening the keynote programme, the executive noted almost 80 per cent of 5G launches used mid-band spectrum, cited as being vital for citywide capacity, but added the use of mmWave would provide the fastest speeds in densely populated areas such as industrial parks and sports arenas.

Pointing to the growth of 5G connections, which are predicted to reach 1 billion by the end of 2022, he noted the GSMA had produced a series of 5G transformation case studies covering the technology’s use for drones, construction, smart cities and windfarms.

Discussing the myriad of 5G use cases, Granryd said: “This is a frontier area of growth, with so many opportunities,” adding: “Of course it’s a joint effort, governments and policy makers must be informed and encouraged to support the rapid and sustainable growth of 5G.”

Alongside the prospects of the network technology, he highlighted continued efforts to address the usage gap with more than 3 billion people not using mobile broadband.

“The good news is that the coverage gap is being reduced,” Granryd said. “Over the last five years, 1.4 billion more people have been covered by mobile broadband and only 450 million remain.”

New era

Adding to this call, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, Chairman and CEO, Telefonica, stressed that we were now living in a new era. “The changes that are already underway are expected to be four-times what happened during the years of the industrial revolution.”

“Everything is happening at an amazing speed. Huge change is happening, and more is coming. A new immersive world is almost here, which is causing mind-blowing disruption. The new technologies will redefine how we work and live, and we’re looking at the possibility of the truly autonomous network.”

To deliver this super-connectivity, a new framework was needed, said the Telefonica exec. “A hyper-sector collaboration which delivers value to all, so everyone can gain a fair return. We’re not asking for privileges, but justice. We’re asking for framework that protects all digital citizens.”

“Data traffic is growing by 50 per cent annually, and this is a daunting challenge giving the investment commitments needed to support this growth. There should be no distinction to those that have access to the digital world and those who do not – we need a new social contract.”