LIVE FROM MWC21 BARCELONA: Stephane Richard, Orange CEO and GSMA chairman (pictured) warned the mobile industry it had a central role to play in tackling societal challenges and was at now at the heart of the debate in contributing to equality, tackling fake news and ensuring more inclusive AI systems.
Richard said mobile had to find solutions to ensure its technology can be used to reduce social and geographical inequalities, which were rising, along with developing systems to be designed and deployed better.
The Orange CEO identified three main challenges facing the industry which needed to be overcome.
First is addressing a usage gap in which 4 billion people globally were not in a position to benefit from digital progress. The second was a need to take action on a lack of trust in the sector, with data hacking, spreading propaganda, fake news and manipulation “contributing to a rise in technology scepticism”, he said.
And finally, Richard pointed to climate change, “the biggest challenge facing the world today”.
The Orange boss noted the pandemic and the subsequent acceleration of digital transformation had seen a lot of solutions come to the fore to lower carbon emissions, but said more work needed to be done as he urged operators to use resources and their ability to create a world where anyone can “thrive”.
With the industry bearing a huge responsibility to ensure progressive technological impact, Richard said real progress would be one focused on positive future impact, and not “just making shiny new things”.
“The benefits of technological progress for humanity depends not on the technology, but on what we do with it. We have a chance to be leaders of an industry that has supported development and built trust for over a century. Trust is still the cornerstone of a strong telecoms industry today.”
Continuing on the theme of trust, Richard also addressed the growing issue of cyberattacks, with an “abundance of data and communications increasing digital vulnerability”.
He cited a US threat assessment report which ranked digital vulnerability the number one risk in the country, above war and terrorism. In Europe, he noted one third of companies reported cyberattacks in 2020.
“There are new cybersecurity fears with 5G, as the ecosystem is becoming larger and more fragmented. Other parts of our activities are also becoming digital and vulnerable.”
He said the industry was facing a constant race, and required the best predictive technology “because no one can be protected behind a closed digital world”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back