Telco leaders convene at WBBA Congress to discuss digital transformation

HONG KONG, March 13, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Leading telecom executives, government officials, and industry experts recently gathered at the World Broadband Association’s (WBBA) Broadband Development Congress in Barcelona to discuss how telecom companies can harness technological change to adapt and thrive over the coming decade.

The mood was one of urgency and anticipation, as over 200 speakers and attendees discussed the need for telecom companies to transform into “techcos” to keep pace with rapid technological advancements. Essentially, this means integrating data and decision intelligence across as many areas of business operations as possible.

The speakers zeroed in on the primary reasons for telecom companies to transition, including new growth opportunities and the necessity to upgrade networks to handle surging data consumption, topics that have been prominent at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Each of the speakers presented ideas on how best to adapt, including strategies for developing next-generation networks, organizational changes, and new service offerings.

“New technologies and applications, represented by generative AI, are emerging, giving rise to a large number of new scenarios, business forms, and models,” said Ke Ruiwen, chairman and CEO of China Telecom. “We’re now facing a new round of technological revolution. We must adapt to meet its new demands.”

He emphasized that China Telecom’s strategy centered on heavily investing in research and development, with R&D staff making up 10% of the company’s total workforce and investment growing at a double-digit rate each year. As a result, China Telecom has managed to leverage new technological offerings to generate new revenue, such as Tianyi Cloud, which has become the world’s largest cloud service operated by a telecom operator and China’s largest hybrid cloud. He mentioned China Telecom was also diversifying into industry-focused AI-enhanced cloud solutions, cloud-network broadband services, and quantum technologies, experiencing significant growth as a result.

Andrew Bender, CTO and head of strategy for fixed networks at Nokia, put a spotlight on the seismic shifts in new multi-gigabit broadband technologies. He noted the widespread adoption of XGS PON broadband technology, a type of very fast internet connection technology, which will soon constitute 67% of North America’s broadband network.

Bender stressed the importance of integrating traditional and mobile internet services to develop customizable, value-added solutions tailored to the varied requirements of both individuals and businesses. He pointed out that strategies like on-demand network slicing would be essential to this integration.

“For operators, and the industry in general, we see a potential two-fold increase in revenue being driven by services of this sort,” Bender stated, predicting widespread adoption of integrated services across the sector.  

Leon Wang, president of Huawei’s Data Communication Product Line, introduced Huawei’s next-generation network solutions, dubbed Net5.5G, designed to assist carriers in boosting revenue and managing increasing data demands.

“Huawei has worked closely with industry partners and proposed Net5.5G as a next-generation network,” Wang stated. “It comprehensively supports ubiquitous 10 Gbps connections, elastic ultra-broadband transport, hyper-converged data centers, and autonomous network self-optimization, empowering carriers to upgrade and evolve their networks while driving new business growth.”

Brian J Smyth, managing director and global lead for innovation, comms, media, and technology at Accenture, highlighted four key trends expected to shape the telecom industry: the influence of AI on how people interact with technology, the growth of AI and chatbot systems, the potential of spatial computing and virtual reality, and the increasing use of wearable technology.

Smyth advised telecom companies to prioritize creating real value, transforming their workforce, establishing a strong digital infrastructure, and earning public trust to make the most of these technological advances for the good of society.

Additionally, the WBBA announced the upcoming launch of the Broadband Excellence Awards. Set to become a benchmark for excellence in the industry, these awards will recognize outstanding contributions and initiatives in broadband development. The award categories will be announced shortly, with submissions opening in the spring and the awards ceremony scheduled for October in Paris.

Founded in 2021, the WBBA seeks to combat digital inequality by promoting innovation and collaboration among business leaders, regulators, policymakers, and standard-setting bodies. It currently boasts 77 members from more than 30 countries.