LIVE FROM MWC19 LOS ANGELES: GSMA director general Mats Granryd (pictured) called on regulators to approve operator consolidation efforts, arguing such transactions are necessary to drive investment in next generation networks.

In a keynote, Granryd noted operators in North America are expected to spend more than $380 billion on mobile networks in the coming years, adding “we should look to support this however we can”. Approving consolidation efforts would bolster such investments while maintaining market competition, he said.

The comments came as operators T-Mobile US and Sprint continued a battle for approval of a proposed merger despite opposition from state officials. The pair successfully overcame the objections of two opponents, however 16 attorney generals remain party to a lawsuit aiming to block the deal.

Granryd also pressed regulators to level the playing field between operators and internet companies by implementing equivalent rules for all digital services, and called for harmonised international privacy and data protection laws.

He reiterated the need for regulators to offer more spectrum to operators at a reasonable cost, noting “it is only the mobile industry that can deliver” the connectivity needed to enable new use cases and economic opportunities.

“Our message to governments worldwide has been simple: don’t get short-term greedy and kill the long-term golden goose.”

Big potential
Granryd said a combination of 5G, AI and big data will fundamentally “transform the way we live, the way we work and the way we do business”.

In addition to serving new enterprise, industrial and entertainment use cases, he said intelligent connectivity offers the potential to enhance personal and professional relationships, and transform verticals including education and healthcare.

For instance, he noted big data can be used to analyse human movement patterns to predict where disease outbreaks will happen, allowing health officials to launch awareness campaigns and treatment centres before the flare-up takes hold.

Using tuberculosis as an example, Granryd said such an initiative could save more than 100,000 lives every year.