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ITU Vision


Outcomes Report: An Industry in Transformation

By Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

It is my great pleasure to introduce this Outcomes Report, the result of in-depth analysis of more than 55 Forum sessions, keynote speeches, roundtables and workshops held at ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai last October. The exclusive Leadership Summit, interactive panel sessions, ministerial roundtables, industry workshops, Big Conversations and Visionary Keynote speeches brought together the best of international ICT leadership from public and private sectors, from academia, non-governmental organizations and consultancies, to discuss the implications of the current radical transformation of our industry.

Conversations continued on the show-floor amongst national and thematic pavilions and industry stands showcasing innovative products, solutions and investment opportunities from around the world - as well as at the Innovator Space, where the twelve young finalists of the second Young Innovators Competition demonstrated their winning ICT -based solutions to developmental challenges.

In the course of discussions, there was diversity of opinion, consensus and contradiction - but above all, passionate engagement in the issues that matter. The new realities of the ICT industry - and of society - cannot be ignored or wished away. There is no way back to a pre-digital age: demand for data is growing exponentially as traditional voice loses value and relevance; over-the-top services and players are increasingly successful; next-generation networks such as LTE and software-defined networks will shape the future; open source development is booming as emerging markets, local entrepreneurs and consumers across the globe are empowered.

The principal message emerging from these five days of debate in Dubai was that the industry must embrace rather than resist the change, adapt, reposition and engage with new services, markets, partners and consumers.

It is a powerful and positive message from a vibrant and rapidly changing industry sector. We hope that you can enjoy and benefit from the key findings from ITU Telecom World 2012 here – and look forward to continuing the debate both online and in person throughout the year and in Bangkok, at ITU Telecom World 2013.

By Dr. Stuart Sharrock, Event Curator

The ideas, arguments, and recommendations presented here are a consolidation of many hours of debate amongst some of the finest minds concerned with the issues driving the ICT industry today. ITU Telecom World 2012 produced disruption and digression, commonplaces, radical new directions, but also much consensus. This report does not aim to be comprehensive, but serves both as a wrap-up of the event, an introduction to the topics discussed there, and an invitation to continue the debate at ITU Telecom World 2013.

Certain themes run across all the topics and sessions: the irreversible nature of the transformation brought about by IPbased services, the loss of old models and certainties, the urgent need to embrace change and respond quickly and imaginatively to new opportunities.

The ICT sector is undergoing a process of fragmentation. The consumer, consumer needs and consumer-driven innovation are increasingly at the centre of communications ecosystems. The emphasis is on local services, local content, local development grounded in the community needs of local markets. Differentiated models and applications must evolve to fit the specificities of geography, demography, generation, and economic and social environment. Splitting infrastructure and services, offering tiered access based on individual requirements, personalizing networks and tailoring packages for particular organizations or sectors - this is the fragmentation at the root of a rich range of potential business models and markets.

There is a simultaneous move towards consolidation. Vertical sectors from broadcasting to government services and health are forcing new convergence models as the benefits of technological developments such as cloud applications, M2M and virtualized networks take hold. The way forward is often through sometimes surprising partnerships within the industry, with government and with other sectors. Information, research, revenue and networks must be shared to maximise value and benefit for all. Cooperation is essential to drive cybersecurity, e-Health and broadband at scale; collaboration is at the heart of open source development and innovation; only by engaging and working together can the trust frameworks be created that will mitigate privacy concerns and allow data to flow.

We are often exhorted to think big, aim for the stars, be bold in our visions. But it may well be that a series of smaller, less dramatic, more pragmatic actions are better suited for current times. The micro-management of process, the establishment and dissemination of best practice, the discipline of impact assessment: these unglamorous activities can support vision and produceresults in areas such as cyberhygiene, opening up rights of way for broadband deployment, targeting customer needs from the bottom up rather than top down, focusing on quality in the core competency of the network.

Keeping the balance is, perhaps, the single most important thread running through these pages. Balanced regulation allows competition and innovation whilst protecting both end-users and intellectual property; expectations of privacy and confidentiality must be balanced against the benefits and convenience of free data flow; respect for human rights and the open internet are balanced by security concerns; and governments are called upon to balance universal provision of broadband against actual demand, short-term gains of spectrum auctions against long-term industry growth, free competition against the effectiveness of managed oligopolies.

With these themes of balance, cooperation and diversity in mind, we welcome your thoughts, differing opinions and contributions to the ideas in this document.

Features of the New Landscape

The rapid growth of IP services, the success of over -the -top (OTT) players in providing services, content and applications, and the explosion of data, cloud and smartphones have radically altered the realities of the telco sector. OTTs and operators are mutually dependent upon each other to drive traffic over the networks - but it is the OTTs who are currently growing revenue through monetizing end-user data, whilst network operators face hefty investments in nextgeneration infrastructure to cope with increasing demand.

Differing timescales

This disconnect is enforced by the cultural and generational gap between OTTs, developing applications in the fast-paced, consumer-based IP world, and traditional operators. The timescales for investment, product life cycles and business models are dramatically out of sync; policy makers and regulators are often unaware of the extent of transformation within the industry; and development is in danger of being stifled or delayed beyond market viability.

The death of voice?

Access to the network is now the basic product, rather than voice - which is increasingly fragmented and embedded as a feature or function of an application such as gaming or messaging, rather than being a standalone billed item. Time, distance and location are irrelevant in the flat IP world, as is the old voice model based on minutes. Voice is “uncool” in comparison with the explosion of data applications and services; exploiting those data services, supported by analytics, cloud computing and software -defined networks, represents a major cultural shift for traditional telcos.

Fragmentation vs. convergence

The industry is fragmenting into closed proprietary systems operating in silos of communication, and potentially threatening the interconnectivity upon which the global telephony system has been built. As end-user demands continue to shape industry development, the loss of this ubiquitous interconnectivity may even prove acceptable in exchange for personalized, responsive and low-cost services. There is a contrasting pull towards new collaborations, cooperations and partnerships, both within the industry, in response to these changing dynamics, and across vertical sectors, as convergence on content and services in areas such as banking, health and education grows.

The importance of local

No one solution, model or ecosystem is or will be suitable for all markets globally; differences of geography, economic and social development, demography and technology remain hugely important. It is local solutions to local issues, locallyrelevant applications and development grounded in the needs of local communities that will drive uptake of services and content....Read more:






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