PARTNER FEATURE: Members of the GTI gathered for its annual Summit at MWC23 Barcelona to applaud its achievements since it was founded in 2011 and to kick off the next phase of the organisation, GTI 3.0, with a focus on continuing global cooperation.

The conference attracted a diverse audience of senior executives from leading mobile operators and equipment suppliers, with the theme: Re-connect for a Connected World.

GTI Chairman Craig Ehrlich (pictured, top) declared: “What set our industry apart was cooperation, collaboration and working together.”

Ehrlich noted that while there is disruption and conflict in the world, disruptive investment and technologies can be a positive force. By working together, he said the mobile sector has “created an incredible giant of an industry and all the verticals that are now moving into our area”.

Looking at the GTI, set up in 2011, the organisation “has been a great success” in terms of the number of operators and vendors involved and the overall ecosystem.

“Keep in mind this industry’s success has been built on cooperation and collaboration.”

Liu Yulin, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, called for the continued development of open systems, adding “we believe GTI will play an important role in the future” of the next generation of networks.

He highlighted in his opening keynote that China’s government attached great importance to 5G and has been fully promoting its development.

Liu noted about 2.3 million 5G base stations have been deployed, covering all urban areas of prefecture-level cities and counties around China. A total of 1.48 million 5G base stations are operating in China through the country’s co-build and co-share initiative.

To accelerate cooperation among global mobile players, Liu put forward three proposals: promote 5G development through technology innovation and accelerating the evolution to 5G-Advanced; unlock 5G value through integrated applications; and achieve a win-win 5G future through open cooperation.

GSMA Director General Mats Granryd (pictured, left) highlighted the incredible reach achieved since the first mobile call was made 50 years ago. Mobile broadband networks cover 95 per cent of the population and serve 5.4 billion people.

“Over the past 30 years, our industry has truly changed the world, unlocking the power of connectivity for almost 70 per cent of the population and enabling innovation on a scale we have not seen before.”

He agrees with Ehrlich that the heart of this success has been partnership and collaboration. “None of this would be possible if we didn’t work together.”

The past three years have been challenging but they have proved that for those who stick together “anything is possible in hard times”.

China Mobile CEO Dong Xin (pictured, below) outlined a five-point plan designed to take advantage of new opportunities across the digital economy, with all focused on promoting globalisation and cooperation with the goal of creating new standards, driving innovation and developing new technologies.
He said the industry by deploying high-speed 5G networks is shaping the global economic structure.

“We will fully support the GTI and next-generation networks. As a member, China Mobile has promoted internationalisation, defined the development of new service technologies, set up 5G innovation centres and contributed to global standards.”

Its action plan includes focusing on international standard exchanges, working together for industrial development, and building a foundation and promoting a global connected infrastructure.

Dong stressed that all stakeholders should jointly promote the high-quality development of the global mobile information industry.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon (pictured, below) insisted he has never been more optimistic about the industry and the opportunities for technology, despite all the challenges in the world, but the key is working together to advance innovation.

In his keynote, Amon stated: “This is an incredible industry, which has been built not by one company or another being able to innovate, but everyone. That continues to be the great spirit of this industry. Cooperation and partnership is probably more important now than ever.”

With 5G deployments spreading globally, Amon said connectivity is quickly expanding beyond the smartphone, and sees a great opportunity ahead enabled by 5G.

He also highlighted moves to advance the 5G roadmap. Qualcomm is working with China Mobile on 5G Advanced initiatives, jointly publishing an action plan for innovation focused on three areas: network excellence, open and intelligence 5G networks, and green 5G.

“This is a great opportunity and will get us on the path to 6G in the next decade.”

Panel: Cooperation and impact
In panel discussion, T-Mobile US EVP John Saw said the industry needs to find new revenue streams. “It’s a challenge, but there’s not a lack of opportunity.”

He pointed out it’s not always easy for enterprises to work with telecoms operators – “networks are locked down. We have to make it easier, moving from walled garden to open networks.”

Saw believes the GTI is going to help the industry “bring the whole global village along” as it embarks on a mission to address the challenge of 5G monetisation.

He doesn’t currently see a strong incentive for building 6G networks if the industry doesn’t make better progress monetising its current invests. Mobile operators have invested more than $100 billion building 5G networks globally, he said.

China Mobile EVP Gao Tongqing’s agreed with Saw, adding: “I think the most important thing is how can we improve 5G business models and how to deliver a completely new customer experience.”

He noted the ecosystem is very diverse, with new players joining, but the key is convergence. “We enjoyed the benefits brought by GTI. For GTI 3.0, we are promoting 5G and 6G.”

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon noted GTI had a fundamental role in harmonising spectrum, adding that was about bringing the communities together from all different markets with a common understanding, common standard and common objective.

“My advice to the GTI is to continue to do that,” adding, perhaps there are other companies in other industries that will benefit from the developments in our industry and they need to be part of GTI.

More keynotes
Nokia CSTO Nishant Batra (pictured, right) used his talk to call for an increase in the scope of collaboration, driven by the move to the cloud allowing enterprises to more easily connect to networks.

“From Nokia’s standpoint, we think it’s time for networks to shake hands with the cloud,” adding the time for an increase in cooperation with new players is now, “but we need to make our products more consumable.”

He added collaboration has worked, and GTI has played a very important role in bringing this together across the value chain. The industry’s achievements have happened because of “collaboration with research, standards, interoperability, best practices and devices.”

Batra cautioned: “The subscriber age of telecoms will run out of gas at the end of the decade if we don’t bring in enterprises”, which will impact every possible industry.

AsiaInfo Chairman Tian Suning started his presentation with wide optimism: “I have a feeling this industry is about to start growing again”, noting open digital transformation is the most important factor in pushing growth forwards.

While 5G was supposed to be the foundation of business connections, that hasn’t happened. “Why? We need to bring 5G into private or open 5G.”

He noted there are a few models for working with enterprises, with network slicing one option. “We did that with China Mobile last year and it was very successful.”

Tian added that in some case large enterprises want their own networks to be able to control their data within their own boundaries. “We can then have independent verticals and working with operators for long-haul networks.”

With companies pushing their virtual and open RAN gear at MWC23 Barcelona, he sees strong momentum getting ready to take off.

Adolfo Hernandez, VP of Global Telco Business Unit at Amazon Web Services (pictured, left), shared insight into how AWS sees innovation through the eyes of cloudification, not in isolation but through the lens of telecoms.

He explained its journey from an IT centric company to a telecoms player started as early as 2019, when it did some telecoms specific work.

Bringing complexity down for setting up a smart home, for example, is made possible by exposing AWS APIs and working with developers in real time. “It’s also about helping telcos not have to build every single component and have an innovation cost of one.”

Hernandez suggests telcos tend to think private wireless networks comes in one size. “They don’t. We believe you need a variety of solutions. Every customer will need something different. Every operator will have different capabilities and different appetite to do things differently.”