MWC 2016 LIVE: CEOs issue rallying call to drive ‘gigabit economy’

gigabit Mobile World Congress 2016CEOs from the world’s largest mobile operators highlighted the challenges facing the industry over the coming five years, as society adapts to the changes being brought by advancements in mobile technology and digitisation.

In the opening keynote on Monday, Mats Granryd (pictured), director general of GSMA, said mobile technology has already played a huge part in driving global connectivity towards the creation of what he termed the “mobile society”.  But he warned that the industry should not rest on its laurels.

“What brought us here won’t keep us here,” he said. “We do need to be more innovative and more collaborative.”

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone Group CEO, echoed this message, saying that the big changes in society over the next five years “will be really shaped by us”.

“I call it the gigabit society,” Colao said, noting that this would be when networks provide very high speeds and very low latency as well as a strong level of security.

“I am convinced we are building this now…we are all working in this direction,” he added.

Cesar Alierta, chairman and CEO of Telefonica, added that telcos now have the opportunity to have a different kind of relationship with the customer, and could achieve this by “fostering innovation”, which he sees as the key to progress.

However, Vodafone’s Colao noted that a healthy gigabit society would not result from a “random” development of technologies but would require pro-investment policies, a thriving ecosystem of providers with no dominant players, education and training, and regulatory frameworks that support strong competition.

He also underlined the “huge cost” to the industry of building the gigabit economy. “We need to be rewarded,” he said. “We are not a lemon to be squeezed.”

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