Mobile Technology, a catalyst for innovation and socio-economic development

About forty years ago, we made the unthinkable possible by enabling people to make voice calls from anywhere. Fast forward to today and there are more mobile subscriptions than there are people on our planet.

Communication technology has gone from being a luxury to being a basic human need, and for millennials and young adults, connectivity is now just as important as the air they breathe.

We know connectivity improves lives every day, including the little things many of us now take for granted, like using digital wallets in communities without traditional banking, smartphones to navigate our way through town, and wearables to track our health. And our physical fitness, and the big things that might once have seemed unimaginable, like doctors’ ability to make an accurate diagnosis of a patient remotely.

Unfortunately, this reality remains a dream for more than a third of the world’s population who are unable to take advantage of the social, economic and environmental benefits that accompany broadband connectivity. With the required investments in infrastructure, ecosystems and policies, many people can enjoy these benefits and we can change the planet.

digital acceleration

While previous generations of mobile networks enabled voice and some basic data connectivity, 4G mobile communications, along with smartphones and their ecosystem of apps have produced a new app economy worth more than six trillion US dollars, or seven percent of output It has changed the way we live, interact and conduct business.

The trend towards digitization has been accelerated with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. During these challenging times, we have enabled two years of digital transformation in a matter of months. The pace of acceleration has set the criteria for the speed of innovation.

The confluence of the global pandemic and digital acceleration has increased our comfort in online collaboration and communication tools – using technology to reduce distance and simulate physical presence. And while we cannot eliminate the need for human contact, millions of people now feel comfortable replacing physical events with virtual ones, opening up new possibilities for how we work and live.

Simulating physical presence online will become part of the new world in what some call the metaverse, others the web. 3.0 As with the early digital disruption, the entertainment and media light industries are poised to lead this transformation.

industry transformation

However, with 5G, the enterprise’s asset-heavy shift will open up a new form of manufacturing based on digitalisation.

The convergence of the digital physical world will provide a large number of benefits to product development and creation – allowing control of physical objects in the virtual world. “Digital twins,” virtual replicas, will be used in industry automation, aiding in predictive maintenance in smart factories, and optimizing logistics flows.

Futuristic connectivity will allow real-time collaboration regardless of location, thus expanding access to expertise and talent pools, wherever they are in the world, making brain drain a relic of the past.

Mobile drives economic development

The role of mobile technology as a catalyst for innovation and social and economic development cannot be overstated. Studies by Ericsson and Imperial College London have shown the clear link between mobile broadband penetration and GDP growth – a 10 per cent increase in mobile broadband penetration led to a 0.8 per cent increase in GDP.

This effect is stronger in low-income countries, hence the potential for significant leaps in economic development through investment in mobile broadband infrastructure.

A catalyst for addressing climate crises

Despite these economic benefits, digital transformation also contributes to the urgent climate challenge facing humanity, particularly through the energy consumed by the networks and data centers we build and operate.

While the ICT industry is responsible for 1.4 percent of the global carbon footprint, research by Ericsson shows that ICT solutions can enable a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 percent.

The main pillars of transformation

We see three main pillars to enable digitization: the need for a robust and reliable network infrastructure; A favorable regulatory environment for investment promotion; The evolution and growth of ecosystems.

Digital transformation at its base requires an infrastructure that is scalable, reliable, dynamic, flexible and secure, with lower power consumption.

Flexible and scalable infrastructure

Fast growing countries in the Middle East such as the UAE are investing heavily in their infrastructure capabilities to enable economic diversification and growth. In an effort to diversify their economies, these countries are now investing in Greenfield Industry 4.0 initiatives.

Governments must stimulate widespread, high-quality infrastructure deployments. The short term price of the spectrum should not be given priority over the long term value generated. Developed countries in the Middle East have led the way in this and are beginning to bear fruit by improving performance in several global infrastructure leadership indicators.

Spectrum policy that drives development

From a governmental and regulatory point of view, the biggest lever is the timely availability of a broad, cost-effective and consistent spectrum. Frequency spectrum is the lifeblood of mobile communications. It is a limited national resource, and starvation of the mobile spectrum industry will slow the pace of digital transformation.

It is essential to maximize spectrum availability and establish a clear, reliable and long-term schedule for its allocation. Unused or unused spectrum does not add value to any country, and the long-term clarity of spectrum licenses is essential to encourage infrastructure investment.

Furthermore, spectrum licensing terms should motivate investment with the flexibility to use spectrum assigned to multiple technologies to reduce cost and increase flexibility. It is critical to uphold the principle of technology neutrality, to stimulate investments in infrastructure and enable innovation.

ecosystem cooperation

Finally, the ability to work with a wide range of collaborators towards a common goal will become the norm, ending the inherited ideas of competition, and traditional boundaries, by focusing on true interdependence.

Ericsson is committed to unlocking the standards that enable mobile innovation to thrive. We will bring together partners across ecosystems to collaborate, innovate, spark new ideas, and develop the ways in which we expose network functions that enable digital innovations to scale. However, the state must ensure technology-neutral policies so that it can benefit from the innovation brought by new generations of technology.

Opportunity to develop a frog jump

The digital transformation of emerging economies presents a huge opportunity to be a major player in the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution based on world-class digital infrastructure and platforms for innovation. Governments, regulators, the telecommunications industry, and application ecosystems play key roles in enabling this incremental change in development.

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