Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mobile World Congress Barcelona: Mobiles Can Drive Economic Growth

The mobile industry is calling upon governments to adopt policies that encourage more investment in mobile services and networks. Wherever possible, governments should seek to create a stable regulatory environment, while licensing spectrum on the right terms to encourage spending on network infrastructure and services, stimulating economic growth. It is also important that governments allocate the same spectrum as other governments in their region for mobile broadband services - this kind of harmonization will allow the same devices to be used in many different countries and enable manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and lower prices for end users.

For instance, it is estimated that the release of new spectrum for mobile broadband services in 2009 will ultimately add the equivalent of $211 billion to China's GDP, and could add the equivalent of $95 billion to India's GDP. Speakers included the head of the GSMA and the CEOs of China Mobile, Ericsson, VimpelCom, Telecom Italia and Telenor, along with the Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Some quotes:

"If the mobile industry can continue to grow and develop at the rate it has over the past 15 years, it could act as one of the few locomotives which can help pull our economies out of the current slump," said Alexander Izosimov, Chairman of the GSMA and CEO of VimpelCom. "Governments need to adopt policies that nurture this potential, rather than stifling it."

"The rolling out and operation of 3G networks in China will create 300,000 job opportunities directly and indirectly," said Wang Jianzhou, Chairman and CEO of China Mobile. "On the one hand, 3G investments will directly boost the development of the telecom manufacturing industry; on the other hand, 3G handsets and 3G applications will drive consumer spending and help companies through the difficulties brought by the financial crisis."

"The evolution of mobile broadband is proof that capital expenditure by operators lays the foundations for the growth of an entire ecosystem," said Franco Bernabe, CEO of Telecom Italia. "In the currently uncertain economic climate, it is simply unimaginable that we will enter a new phase of European and worldwide growth if we do not have sufficient availability of bandwidth. Bandwidth is the necessary driver for direct investments such as radio access infrastructure and demand for fibre-optic backhauling; it is also a driver of indirect investment, through the emergence of new market players and new services. If we wish to repeat the successes of the past - successes in technology that, from GSM onwards, have made improvements to our lives - this potential may only be realized fully within a harmonious regulatory context."

"Our industry and the authorities must work together to find sustainable business models for mobile broadband," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Telenor Group. "If we get this right, mobile broadband will have the same deep changing impact on people's lives as basic mobile services have had."

"Mobile broadband is essential for socio-economic growth and, with LTE, the industry has, for the first time, a true global standard," said Carl-Henric Svanberg, President and CEO of Ericsson. "The deployment of mobile broadband is also particularly important for closing the digital divide and the allocation of low-frequency spectrum is a prerequisite."

"Mobile technologies are the most powerful tools we have for combating extreme poverty in the most isolated parts of the world," said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute. "By closing the digital divide, mobile connections give the poor access to vital health services and students from all parts of the world a chance to learn through 'global classrooms.' Similarly, mobile phones are being deployed to expand agro-business, e-governance, banking, and commerce throughout poor countries. Private companies are taking in the lead in countless creative and path-breaking efforts, and these breakthroughs are being expanded rapidly through public-private partnerships. Digital technologies will play a core role in ending poverty and in enabling the world to join together through markets, social networks, and cooperative efforts to solve our common challenges."