The event was attended by information communication technology (ICT) industry experts, academics and economists from around the world. Speakers included Huawei’s Executive Director of the Board and President of the Carrier Business Group Ryan Ding, international investor Jim Rogers and GSMA Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Stephanie Lynch-Habib, among others.
Focusing on the new challenges the world faced in 2020, the summit highlighted ICT’s critical role as the key digital infrastructure to support societal wellbeing and economic recovery. Given the rising trend of technology decoupling, the summit emphasised the need to embrace open collaboration, as well as the call to defeat the fear of adopting new technologies.
In 2020, ICT played a vital role in resuming work and production during the pandemic. Meanwhile, 2020 has witnessed an exponential growth in 5G business applications. Global consultancy firm STL Partners, estimated that 5G-enabled scenarios will raise global gross domestic product by $1.4 trillion by 2030.
At the Summit, STL Partners co-founder Chris Barraclough stressed the transformative role of 5G in the manufacturing, energy, and healthcare sectors. Huawei Enterprise’s digital transformation expert Edwin Diender concurred, explaining the role of how 5G, artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing enabled faster drug screening and diagnosis, intelligent monitoring and remote working and education during the pandemic.
GSMA CMO Lynch-Habib shared her view that 5G’s rollout in 2020 brought more than 100 5G networks to 47 countries, adding some regions are ahead in making 5G a mature application. 5G will influence consumer-oriented industries such as ecommerce, as well as boosting innovative services including virtual reality and augmented reality. Standard network slicing models and edge computing will provide high reliability, low latency, high throughput and service customisation. Low latency describes a computer network that is optimised to process a very high volume of data messages with minimal delay (latency). These networks are designed to support operations that require near real-time access to rapidly changing data. “Our working groups are continually supporting and enhancing global standards,” stressed Lynch-Habib.
During the virtual, live-streamed event, Huawei Carrier Business Group Chief Technology Officer Paul Scanlan called 2020 a “Sputnik” moment. “Similar to when the first man-made satellite Sputnik was successfully launched in 1957, bringing humanity into the age of space exploration, as 5G matured in 2020, everything changed,” said Scanlan. “The industry began to accelerate 5G adoption, offering spectrum discounts, innovating business models and driving industry transformation. That’s never happened in the last 10 years.”
Several guests at the event commented on early adoption and major technological breakthroughs by saying there has always been a mistrust and fear of new things. For example, during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, because there was fear of automated production creating job losses, factories were destroyed. As the events in 2020 led to more isolation and nationalism, there has been a rise against transnational cooperation. More countries are closing their doors and decoupling from others over technology.
Professor Jin Keyu of the London School of Economics said during the summit: “In today’s world, it’s less about competition, rivalry and substitution and more about collaboration, complementarity and cooperation.”
At the end of the summit, Huawei’s Ding noted that an open and trusted ecosystem is required for everyone to share the prosperity brought by technology. To do so, the ICT industry needs to continue adopting unified technical and security standards. Given the current geopolitical environment, he stressed, “Politics should stay away from technical issues. We need to remain fair and open to drive cooperation. Industry cooperation is not a zero-sum game. If an isolated approach is adopted now, while new technology is unlocking social and business value at a faster rate, the victim will not be one company.”