GSMA Mobile 360 – Digital Societies: Mobile technology to play vital role in new industrial revolution
By Tan Jee Yee September 26, 2019
- Mobile industry accounts for 32 million jobs worldwide, US$3.9 trillion in revenue
- Malaysia’s 5G and Internet initiatives indicates readiness for future connectivity needs
IT IS often with numbers that we get a perspective of the world, and some of the numbers shared during the keynote speeches of the GSMA Mobile 360 – Digital Societies conference certainly highlight just how mobile and communications technology has changed our lives.
In her keynote address, GSMA’s chief financial officer Louise Easterbrook (pic, above) says that – directly and indirectly – the mobile industry employs 32 million women and men, and generates US$3.9 trillion in revenue, around the world. Two-thirds of the world’s population now subscribe to a mobile service.
“A truly digital society is a reality, and if done correctly, will democratise access to public services and see technology-led businesses drive economic growth,” she says.
There’s no better perspective to start the Mobile 360 – Digital Societies conference, which aims to examine the components of a successful digital society and see what works going forward. The focus this time is on digital platforms that enable new and innovative services – points explored within the first few keynote speeches.
It’s important for us to examine these aspects, as mobile technology will soon be part of a new industrial revolution – one that, as Easterbrook notes – is “all about intelligent connectivity. It is the combination of 5G, AI, Big Data and IoT that will change the way we live and do business.
“By combining all four, the possibilities are nearly endless. And when we combine them for good, the results are life-affirming and potentially life-saving,” she says.
Easterbrook adds that the advent of the ways 5G taps into “millimetre waves” (mmaves) – which are less congested and therefore enables super-fast transfers – can leapfrog the technology of modern benefits. Millimetre wave 5G, she says, is forecast to deliver US$45 billion to this region by 2034.
Easterbrook says that with the coming of the digital age, it is critical to have a regulatory framework ready for it. There are four key things to think about, the first being the need for a “timely release of harmonised spectrum, with the right conditions.”
“Intelligent connectivity will bring benefits… but not if the industry is burdened by colossal debt from overpriced spectrum options,” she says.
Secondly, there needs to be “approval of consolidation to drive investment while maintaining effective competition”. Thirdly, an even playing field for internet operators and players is crucial, as is (lastly) privacy and data protection rules and policies.
Malaysia will be ready for this, or at least making headway in terms of preparation. During his speech at the conference, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (pic, above) says that nationwide project demonstrations for the 5G service network will begin in October. As you may recall, 5G demonstrations were launched in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya back in April.
He adds that MCMC has also conducted a public inquiry on allocations of spectrum bands of mobile broadband services from July 1, 2019 to seek input on optimum bandwidth, timeline for the allocation process and broad principles to determine spectrum fees.
“It is hoped that Malaysia’s early commitment towards 5G through network service testing and rapid deployment across the country will place us among the 5G adoption leaders in the world,” he says.
Gobind also brought up the ministry’s policies to democratise internet access in the country, noting that the price for home broadband has been reduced by 49%, which in turn saw demand increase by 21%.
Gobind reiterated his ministry’s efforts in providing availability and access to the digital infrastructure, which is the basis of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP). The RM21.6 billion national connectivity plan is expected to be completed in five years, and would create 20,000 job opportunities for city and rural folk.
At the very least, there is an understanding of the economic impact connectivity could bring to a country. In his speech, Gobind says that a World Bank study found that a 10 percentage point increase in fixed broadband penetration would increase GDP growth by 1.21% in developed economies, and 1.38% in developing ones.
“Such an increase as this for Malaysia would mean an additional (RM20 billion) US$4.787 billion based on the country’s GDP for 2018,” he says.