21 May 2018
The Global Leaders’ Forum is working with other groups on issues that are key to all in the industry. Marc Halbfinger, chair of the GLF, tells Alan Burkitt-Gray about the progress so far and the work ahead
Marc Halbfinger has a busy week
ahead – starting yesterday with the latest meeting of
the Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), the grouping of
top executives from the international carrier community.
They meet at International Telecoms Week (ITW) and other big
Capacity events around the world. This week they will be
talking about the latest work the GLF has been doing –
which is due to be announced at 10:00 this morning. Halbfinger,
CEO of PCCW Global, will share the stage in the Lucerne
ballroom on the Gold Level of the Swiss Tower with Colt CEO
Carl Grivner and Daniel Kurgan, CEO of BICS.
During the hour-long presentation they will talk about "how
the GLF is driving the industry agenda to ensure
interoperability and ubiquitous connectivity", says Halbfinger.
They will update the industry on programmes that have already
been announced and talk about their future plans.
"Our work shows that the GLF is a decision-maker that can
work with different industry forums, in order to unify issues
in the industry as a whole," says Halbfinger.
We’re sitting on Saturday afternoon in the
lobby of the Hyatt Regency as prep for ITW carries on around
us. He has just checked in after getting off his plane from
Hong Kong. "There were a lot of people from the industry on
that plane. I could have had a lot of my ITW meetings in the
cabin," he smiles.
The very existence of the GLF is due to "the good work of
Ros Irving and Alexandre Pébereau", he says. Irving is
CEO of Capacity Media, the company behind Capacity events,
including ITW, and Capacity magazine. Pébereau chaired
the GLF until a year-and-a-half ago, while he was CEO of Orange
Halbfinger took over from Pébereau as chair of the
GLF. "Before my tenure, and in the last year-and-a-half, we
have worked to ensure the GLF can become a platform for the
industry to identify areas of collaborative development," he
It’s not new for the international
communications industry, he adds. "The hallmark of the industry
has been to facilitate ubiquitous interconnectivity to allow
people to communicate." The existence of ITW and the GLF are
examples of how the industry works together, he
"The GLF was established as a body that is able to serve as
a platform for the industry – and what
we’ve tried to do in the last 18 months is to have
certain activities that would be meaningful to the industry and
go beyond dialogue and generate activity."
It’s not exclusive. "We’re not
designed for divisiveness." Instead, "the GLF can serve as a
senior executive body and would endorse the work of other
So what projects will the GLF be talking about at 10:00 this
morning? "The first example is work on combatting fraud," he
says. This, led by Kurgan, is built on the foundations of work
that has been done by i3forum. The GLF released its code of
conduct earlier this year, detailing how the industry is taking
a stand and working together to reduce fraud in the
international wholesale sector.
An area of work that has received great attention is the use
of blockchain to transform inter-carrier settlement. This
began, says Halbfinger, with "a GLF subcommittee on blockchain
in which an initial proof of concept, put together by Colt and
PCCW Global, has been joined by other carriers". He and his
industry partners will be naming the other carriers this
Away from today’s presentation, the GLF has
several programmes. "Michael Wheeler of NTT has been leading a
subcommittee to create a real-time online platform to combat
various security issues," he says.
"And there is work that’s been done in a GLF
subcommittee on new commercial models," he adds.
"That’s being led by George Sloan of AT&T and
follows work with MEF on commercial attributes." Each
subcommittee includes members from across the industry, he is
quick to point out.
"These are all ongoing areas of work that are showing
demonstrable progress, and we believe this is valuable to the
industry." He quotes from a foreword from a forthcoming GLF
publication: "The GLF’s mission is to ensure that
the evolving and future digital ecosystem remains open to
everyone, everywhere, and that the key industry property of
global instant interoperability can be assured
Pierre-Louis de Guillebon of Orange has led work to set out
governance and membership criteria. "The GLF is open to all
carriers. We have principles but are more focused on
substantive action than procedural matters. Our rules are
clear, simple and transparent."
And the GLF is expanding its reach to other bodies in the
wider telecoms industry – not just the i3forum and
MEF, which Halbfinger has already mentioned but, he says, the
mobile industry’s GSMA and the International
Telecommunication Union. "Our aspiration is to complement other
industries’ efforts and to highlight the work.
This isn’t a body that’s designed to
compete with others."