Hot topics headline agenda at ITU Telecom World 2013

By : |November 22, 2013 0

BANGKOK, THAILAND: Debates this week at ITU Telecom World 2013 spanned a huge range of topics from social and mobile apps to the transformative impact of the Internet in Africa.

Visions of the future
Inspirational futurist Gerd Leonhard, CEO, Futures Agency, delivered a compelling, challenging, and at times chilling glimpse into a possible near future dominated by data, digital dependence and dramatic sociological changes.

Over the next 10 years, human-to-machine interfaces will take us far beyond connected fridges, self-parking cars and intelligent wristwatches – and at an unbelievable pace, as real life begins to outstrip fiction. Artificial intelligence will augment our bodies and extend our personalities into devices, as chips as small as 5 nanometres across become fast, cheap and embedded in everything.

This is the new version of the Internet: the Internet of everything with up to 100 billion connected devices. We will be living inside a computer – and our mobile phones will function as an external brain. Used responsibly, this can bring unprecedented benefits, increased efficiency, vastly more comfortable and convenient lifestyles. But there is an equally huge associated risk of unintended consequences in an age of exponential expansion in connectivity.

Big Data also presents risks, as a data economy estimated at $15 trillion could trigger data wars over the power that massive money puts in play, in addition to failures in privacy and security as “the power of technology exceeds the scope of ethics”. The big message for the ICT industry is to establish a trust framework, think laterally in a fluid ecosystem, and establish a digital bill of rights adapted to the new digital reality. “If you are in the technology business, you are in the trust business” – if you want to survive.

Big Data: True value, frameworks, trust
Providing expert perspectives on where the true value in Big Data lies, Oxford Internet Institute’s Viktor Mayer-Schönberger told a packed room, “The true value of data is only reaped if data is being re-used over and over and over again for multiple purposes.” Faced with increasing competition and the prospect of cutting costs to remain competitive, a more viable long term growth strategy – which Mayer-Schönberger foresees – is telcos fully entering the Big Data arena.”

Nevertheless, “existing legal frameworks are quite inadequate to address the Big Data phenomenon,” according to Covington & Burling’s Daniel Cooper, and fail to address a number of key areas including data retention. Interwoven throughout the session’s conversation was the crucial notion of trust, as building trust is critical for players operating in this environment.

“The relation with big data and trust and privacy is eminent in every initiative,” noted Verizon’s Harm Arendshorst. “Customers want and need to trust their provider, and this is a trend likely to continue going forward”. “Trust is a valuable currency in the marketplace, expect more trust-related services,” said Mayer-Schönberger. Building a secure, trustworthy, collaborative environment will be the key, with the correct framework to support it.

Spotlight on virtualized networks
Hunger for expert information on one of the hottest topics in the ICT industry was evident in the audience-driven discussion on Network Virtualization.

“Separating the network function from the hardware and allowing these functions fro be orchestrated from the cloud environment is the key driver,” said Jan Ellsberger of Ericsson. “This will be invaluable in allowing dynamic, flexible and automated networks to cope with the increased and highly heterogeneous demand in the near future, where every possible device that could benefit from being connected will be connected.”

Scalability and agility make “virtualization a business necessity for customers,” said Kelly Ahuja, Cisco, “in addition to the reduction in both capital and operating expenses in the longer term.” Network virtualization is not without its challenges: ensuring network security and quality is vital, in particular during the transition, whilst standardization and interoperability have yet to be addressed.

Business models will be as varied as the possibilities of virtualizing different combinations of different components of the network. As Magedanz indicated, the major change for telcos is moving from (being) network companies to IT companies, opening up issues of support models, ownership and education as the operator moves from the vertical to the horizontal platform.

The technology is there; the implementation has started. Network virtualization is moving from concept to reality, an enormous new opportunity for the industry.

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