How can network operators and other digital service providers meet the growing demand for faster connectivity in an era of exponential growth in video traffic? How can they lower their capital expenditures (capex) as they invest in solutions to speed the deployment of gigabit-speed broadband? And how can they work with “over-the-top” (OTT) players such as Skype and WhatsApp in a way that is beneficial to all?
More than two dozen high-level executives (CxOs) from companies such as Tunisie Telecom, Alibaba, KT, Huawei, Sofetel, Expresso Telecom Group, Ericsson, Orange, and Deutsche Telekom discussed these and other crucial industry issues yesterday with the senior management of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) during the first ITU CxO Meeting in the Arab and Africa Regions.
The meeting provided key private sector players with an opportunity to brief and advise ITU-T on emerging industry needs and standardization priorities at the outset of ITU’s quadrennial World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA‑16) in Hammamet, Tunisia.
The CxO meeting was hosted by Mr. Nizar Bouguila, Chairman and CEO of Tunisie Telecom, who said in opening remarks that the establishment of standards is very important to fostering innovation.
Providing faster speeds while controlling costs
Executives from Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, and others, presented and discussed multiple solutions that save costs by using technologies based on ITU standards, such as G.fast.
Daniel Won, President and Head of the Global Business Division of DASAN Networks, also spoke about how to increase network speeds and save money by using existing copper infrastructure, and how DASAN is serving mobile and fixed networks with the same platform.
How to work with OTT players
The group also discussed some of the opportunities and challenges of telcos working together with OTT players, noting that such collaboration is crucial to contemporary ICT innovation.
Rim Belhassine-Cherif, Executive Director of Products and Services for Tunisie Telecom told the audience how her company partnered with OTT video-on-demand provider “icflix”, and with Universal Music to provide “Digster by TT.” She also mentioned how Tunisie Telecom has joined with others to work on studying the economic and regulatory impact of OTT players. She called on more telecos from developing countries to participate in the ITU-T Study Group 3 study on econ impacts of OTT, and to develop guidelines and best practices for OTT-Telco cooperation.
“Eventually OTT players will face similar rules as operators,” said Magnus Furustam, Ericsson’s Head of Network Products for the Mediterranean Region. Despite the continued expected revenue decline for many operators, “the value of global communication services is extremely high,” he said. “That value will remain.”
Data security for OTT services was another hot topic on the agenda during the CxO meeting.
“The world is changing very fast today. It’s not the biggest or strongest, but the most adaptive [companies] that will survive,” Yuejin Du, VP and Chief Security Officer of Alibaba Security told fellow executives. “Data is the new gold. Data itself is the key to future.”
Yet, while companies are racing to take advantage of the business opportunities of Big Data, the security threats are multiplying. The threats are often internal, Du said, adding that the rapid rise of connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) era is compounding the threat.
“Old experiences cannot handle the new challenges,” said Du, calling for a change from “system-centric” security to “data-centric” security. The growing scale of the threats must not stop innovation, however, he said.