Tailwinds and headwinds are par for the course, says ITW keynote panel

Tailwinds and headwinds are par for the course, says ITW keynote panel


The heavy weights of the global connectivity landscape took to the stage on day 1 of International Telecoms Week, facilitated by the ITW Global Leaders Forum (GLF).

Adopting a chat show format approach, moderator and director of the GLF, Annabel Helm, rotated the eight panellists on and off the stage is a series of discussions that touching on everything from network transformation and IoT to diversity and reskilling.

Kicking things off was Jonathan Adelstein, head of global policy and public investment at DigitalBridge and Elisabetta Romano, chief network, operations & wholesale officer at TIM, who discussed the state of play as it is currently.

According to Adelstein, despite all the massive investments required in infrastructure to support the likes of 5G, amid a turbulent economic factors, "5G hasn't resulted yet in new revenue streams to support to accommodate additional capital investments required".

In the case of DigitalBridge he said, "we're seeing the need for large investment managers like us [DigitalBridge] using our ability to raise funds and the low cost of capital to help meet those very demanding infrastructure needs".

As for Romano, she says there are a number of digital transformation milestones we must hit first, such as greater automation and integration of services "before we are able to meet the requires of the telco of tomorrow" adding that the transformation of our networks "is not optional" and we have to find a way to monetise our networks "better than we have for the last 10 years".

Next up was Obaid Rahman, head of wholesale at Axiata Group and Chris Sharp, CTO at Digital Realty, joining Romano and Adelstein on stage.

Rahman offered his perspective on the integrated telco conversation, through the lens of an Asian telco.

Acknowledging that there is a lot of tailwinds in the region such as growth in online users and the digital economics in the region are 'swelling up' as he put it, but there are also some headwinds such as stalled productivity growth due to part to the pandemic, a labour surplus that needs to be tapped into and there still remains areas where basic connectivity needs to be addressed.

For Sharp and Digital Realty, despite its own headwinds and tails winds the company is focused on power density as well as the application of AI across its business and he predicts that it will make network infrastructure "more transparent" adding that "as a community we need to support this evolution of how the software is going to be coming to market".

But that wasn't all, Valle Ortega, chief product and marketing officer at Global Solutions; Emmanuel Rochas, CEO at Orange International Carriers; Rolf Nafziger, senior vice president at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier; Eric Cevis, president at Verizon Partner Solutions and Global Wholesale at Verizon.

While Ortega talked us through Telefónica's network transformation journey, Cevis on Verizon's investments plans and ROI, Rochas shared the requirements and capabilities to transition to cloud-native architectures and Nafziger on Deutsche Telekom's 'cloudification' strategy, it was their final predictions that gave us most food for thought.

According to Nafziger, “In 12 months from now we will see first carriers exposing network APIs to developers. We will also see first Carriers closing commercial inter-carrier agreements for easy API federation/roaming.”

Ortega said that telcos need to “… start moving into software companies to provide services through any channel to any user or customer to connect to anywhere”.

While Rochas believes in 12 months' time “… the progressive delayering of networks will enable large scale WAN sharing partnerships and that automation of connectivity sourcing and ordering via APIs will democratise far beyond the current early adopters.”

As for Cevis, he predicts we will see "… a more diverse workforce to include improvement in gender balance, racial equity and inclusiveness at the C-Levels of companies as articulated in now the 4th industry white paper on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging from the GLF.

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