MWC21: ‘Everyone has the right to mobile telecom’

3.3 billion of the world’s 7 billion people are still without mobile communications. For 500 million, that’s because they are out of range of mobile networks. The rest do not have the means, or are not interested. Every effort must be made to close this digital divide. With that message, the Mobile World Congress opened in Barcelona this morning.

The CEOs of Orange, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica briefly looked back at the consequences of the corona pandemic, in which they had to keep their networks afloat. The market was “flung forward five years,” said Mats Granryd of the GSMA trade association.

That certainly had its advantages. Last year, an estimated 112 million more women started using mobile internet in low- and middle-income countries. A record number of women in South Asia are now using mobile internet services, narrowing the gender gap to 15 percent from 19 percent in low- and middle-income countries, according to the fourth annual GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report released today.

Affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills and lower awareness of mobile internet are major barriers for women in less developed countries. Structural inequalities in society and discriminatory social norms also remain a challenge.

For South Asia, which had the most significant gender gap in 2019 with women being 50 percent less likely to use the mobile internet than men. In Sub-Saharan Africa the percentage is 37 percent.

There are also technical challenges. Timotheus Höttges of Deutsche Telekom (photo below) outlined a future in which all kinds of networks for different applications (satellite, 5G, IoT) will work together using smart software. “In ten years we will be a kind of telecom as a platform, evolving from network administrators to software companies.”

Höttges warned that Europe is lagging behind because each country has its own regulations and supervisors and there is too little working from one vision. That has to change, because the US and Asia are working more energetically and can switch more quickly. “It’s time we woke up.”

Source: Mobile – Emerce by

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