Addressing the consequences of digitalisation in the Russia & CIS region

Russia RIS

(GSMA, 2018)

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By Tair Ismailov, Strategic Engagement Director, Eastern Europe, GSMA

As the GSMA has observed in its reports, there are five basic enablers of the digital economy: high-speed, reliable and robust broadband infrastructure; digital safety and security; locally relevant content and services; digitally skilled users; and digitally engaged governments and businesses.

Whilst mobile operators are trying to define the business case for investment in 5G, a large number of players in the digital field are working on developing use cases around technologies such as IoT, AI, Blockchain, and AR/VR, which will fuel high-quality mobile broadband infrastructure.

The rate at which newly commercialised products get adopted by consumers is growing exponentially. There is no doubt that in the coming years the technologies mentioned above will be adapted in different ways creating products and services never seen before.

Digital transformation is opening up new opportunities for the development of society but at the same time, it raises political, social, economic and ethical issues that need to be addressed.

Tremendous economic growth brought by the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century has also led to significant social changes including the rapid increase in the global population, the phenomenon of urbanisation and the appearance of new social classes with large differences in income and quality of life.

Social protest spread from the Luddites in England who destroyed machines out of fear of losing their jobs through to the proletarian revolutions across many parts of the world spurred by struggles for a better quality of life.

In the 21st century, we see parallel fears in society. Some people are afraid that they will lose their jobs to AI and neo-luddites are propagating passive resistance to consumerism and the technologies of the Computer Age.

Governments and industry players around the world are working on creating the digital ecosystem and new policy frameworks to drive the extension of digital benefits across all sectors of their economies, and address social and ethical challenges that go hand in hand with technological progress.

In Russia and other countries in the Eurasian region, dedicated digital economy programmes have been launched to accelerate economic development, improve quality of life, attract foreign investment and increase global competitiveness through a focus on science and technology.

The CIS region with 232 million unique mobile subscribers is one of the most highly penetrated regions in the world, trailing slightly behind other developed market regions such as Europe and North America but well ahead of both Latin America and Asia Pacific. In spite of the fact that the region has one of the lowest prices of mobile voice and broadband around the world, local operators manage to provide high quality service to their users and be up to speed with the global trends in launching the latest technology standards. Mobile operators in the CIS, as in most of the developed world, are exploring new areas outside of traditional telecom to innovate and evolve in order to be competitive in the advanced digital ecosystem.

In the past few years, local operators boosted their cooperation with GSMA in Future Networks, IoT and Digital Identity. In 2018 Russian operators launched the first trial of a digital identity solution that offers a safe, seamless and convenient consumer experience called Mobile Connect. Mobile Connect can provide different levels of security, ranging from low-level website access to highly-secure bank-grade authentication. Mobile Connect promises to make passwords a thing of the past. To use the service, individuals subscribing to a participating operator simply need to click on a website’s Mobile Connect button.

In recognition and support of Russian and regional digitisation plans, GSMA is launching the first Mobile 360 Series – Russia & CIS event, taking place on 30 – 31 October 2018 in Moscow at the Four Seasons Hotel. We’re confident this event will become a leading platform for the cultivation of regional engagement in the Digital Economy field bringing together senior executives from mobile operators, regulators and representatives of industry verticals. Registration for the event is now open, and we look forward to seeing you there.

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