INTERVIEW: Connectivity alone cannot bridge the digital divide, Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) CEO Shrikant Shenwai (pictured) said.
Instead, affordable connectivity is the key to ensuring people and communities, which are currently underserved, get to enjoy the full benefits of the “digital lifestyle or digital capabilities”, Shenwai told Mobile World Live.
Speaking during the recent Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the WBA CEO explained the sustainability of connections is another key aspect in closing the digital gap for communities which do not readily have access today.
Shenwai pointed to Wi-Fi as a key enabling technology in achieving the goal of affordable and sustainable connectivity. He noted the technology is affordable and is “something that anyone can deploy”, meaning underserved communities are not reliant on communications service providers alone for Wi-Fi access.
Around the world, “even the cities and the governments are looking at how they can use Wi-Fi to provide more affordable connectivity to the citizens and the residents,” he explained.
The broadening focus is reflected in the WBA’s discussions globally. While the alliance’s core remains the mobile and fixed-line carriers which started the group, Shenwai said it is increasingly engaging with city authorities in major locations including New York City and Singapore. The organisation’s Connected Cities Advisory Board “includes CIO participants” from around “40 different cities”, Shenwai said.
WBA is also actively engaged with the broader digital industry, including “major companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook”, he added.
View the full interview here.