MWC SHANGHAI 2021: GSMA director general Mats Granryd (pictured) reminded the mobile industry of its responsibilities as he opened this year’s MWC Shanghai, urging operators to focus on ethics, profitability, resist the threat of a technological divide and address a global crisis of trust.

In a keynote, Granryd noted the immense challenges of 2020 on a global scale, but insisted the mobile industry proved itself in the face of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic by providing the infrastructure to give the world “a backbone for recovery”.

He said 2021 was already off to a better start, “with consumer optimism at a nine-month high”.

However, with mobile connectivity now centre stage in people’s lives and the industry becoming “one of the most powerful and public platforms” globally, this new role comes attached with serious responsibilities in light of heightened challenges.

He noted that on the current path, we will continue to see the balance of power shift towards “bad actors with bad intentions”, with a “growing breeding ground for hate, anti-science, anti-truths, isolation and even violence perpetuated on 24/7 digital and social channels”.

Granryd also urged the industry to resist the threat of a technological divide and a split ecosystem, “which could threaten interoperability, scale and security”, and instead use business relationships to advance together.

A third major point of his speech addressed operator investment. Granryd pointed out the industry had spent money on infrastructure, spectrum and technology across all the generations of mobile technology up to 5G, resulting in linear growth

“Coverage and connectivity drove subscribers and the mobile internet drove smartphones. However as mature markets began to reach subscriber and smartphone saturation, margins got squeezed but capex continued to rise. And internet giants are now reaping the rewards in terms of market capitalisation.”

To that end, Granryd said it was a major responsibility for leaders to run their businesses ethically, as well as focus on profitability.