Innovating together: connectivity that matters at ITU Telecom World 2019 – in association with The European Sting

ITU telecom World 2019 Budapest

ITU Telecom World 2019 will take place in Budapest, Hungary (ITU, 2019)

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What’s the difference between connectivity and connectivity that matters? How can
technological innovation increase the well-being of people throughout the world –
including the very poorest without access to running water, electricity or education?
And why is international collaboration the kingpin of development?

These are some of the questions raised by the theme of this year’s ITU Telecom
World, four days of exhibition, conference and networking organized by the UN
agency for technology, ITU. The event offers a unique platform to bring together the
right stakeholders from government and industry, emerging and developed markets
to address fundamental tech-related issues – and work together to ensure
meaningful technology improves lives everywhere.

Connectivity is key

Connectivity is the key to social and economic development throughout the world.
Whether fixed, mobile or hybrid, broadband networks kick-start growth, producing a
direct, positive and measurable impact on economies. Broadband improves
efficiency, communications and the circulation of goods and services, creating new
markets, innovations and access to the knowledge economy. And it has the power to
benefit lives across almost every sector of industry or society, from education to
health, agriculture, transport, logistics, government, entertainment and beyond.

The ITU is committed to connecting all the world’s people, wherever they live and
whatever their means. The ICT sector is working towards an ambitious long-term
goal of connecting the next 1.5 billion citizens by 2020. This will require enormous
investment in networks and other infrastructure, of course, as well as – critically –
significant political commitment. And this is where innovation has such an important
role to play.

Innovation throughout the ecosystem

Innovation in connectivity solutions, including hybrid technologies mixing fixed,
wireless, satellite networks such as high throughput (HTS), non-GSO and High
Altitude Platform Satellites (HAPS) as well as drones and balloons. But also
innovation in financing and deployment, which might include new cross-sector
partnerships, new regulatory approaches and new funding mechanisms, whether
with international or developmental banks, private sector stakeholders or
government initiatives in taxation, licencing, spectrum and the application of
Universal Service Funds.

Given the indisputably central role of government in driving connectivity, innovation
in the public sector is paramount, be it direct government subsidies and
programmes, new alignments between and across ministries, or incentives aimed at
creating a positive investment environment. With the advent of 5G and the growth of
smart solutions based on the Internet of Things, finding new models to grow access
to broadband is essential – along with the political will to implement those models.

Connectivity that matters

Connectivity alone, however, is not enough. According to recent estimates, around
80% of the world’s population is covered by at least 2G or 3G services – yet
adoption remains at barely 50%. Infrastructure needs to be accompanied by
affordable services and equipment, and by a range of demand-side measures. What
use is there, after all, in offering connectivity if no one knows it is there, or how to use
it? Or if no one can understand the language it is in, or see the point in using the
services and applications it offers?

So connectivity needs to matter: to be relevant, fit-for-purpose, interoperable and
affordable. This means local content in local languages appropriate for local
contexts. It means creating awareness of the potential it offers, and then training and
educating people to be able to use and benefit from it, perhaps then to add to and
increase it. Because digital literacy and digital skills are crucial for connectivity to be
meaningful.

International collaboration –international inspiration

Exploring the innovations in technology, policy and strategy driving meaningful
connectivity – and the international and inter-sectoral collaboration needed to make it
happen – is at the heart of ITU Telecom World 2019. Held at HungExpo in Budapest,
Hungary, from 9 – 12 September, the event will feature an international exhibition of
tech solutions and projects, a world-class forum of interactive, expert-led debates, a
networking programme connecting organizations, nations, individuals and ideas, and
an acclaimed Awards Programme recognizing innovative tech-based solutions with
real social impact.

Hungary’s position as an important regional commercial hub in the centre of Europe
and its long tradition of technological creativity make Budapest the ideal venue to
host tech experts and leaders from public and private sectors around the world. And
ITU’s key role in allocating spectrum, establishing international consensus on
industry standards, and supporting the critical role of ICTs in meeting the UN’s
Sustainable Development Goals provides an informed, valued and diverse platform
for discussions, meetings and building partnerships.

ITU’s authority and expertise enable it to convene a unique and influential global
audience. Heads of state and government will come together with ministers,
regulators, leading industry CEOs from major players and SMEs, organizations,
associations and consultants. As a UN event, it delivers a truly international
perspective on innovation in technology, policy and regulation from emerging and
developed markets from all around the world.

Visit telecomworld.itu.int to find out more on ITU Telecom World 2019 and how to
take part in Hungary this September.

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