The next frontier
Europe should have all the ingredients for a smooth transition towards the connected age – So why is it currently lagging behind China and the US in the digital revolution?
We live in a world of rapidly advancing technology, which is changing lives like never before. ICT (Information Communication Technology) is transforming politics, businesses, economies and society, as well as our day-to-day lives.
5G technologies in conjunction with the IoT (Internet of Things) could help the EU change its game and become a leader of the digital sphere. Fifth generation mobile networks will be able to transmit data about 10 times faster than current standards. This advanced technology is expected to become operational by 2020, just three years away, which will be enable connections between 30 billion or more devices, providing the infrastructure for the all-encompassing IoT.
Industry experts expect 5G first to be implemented in major cities with IoT applications being used to connect smart city solutions like connected streetlights and traffic lights. Eventually it will connect us with smart home devices, self-driving cars and robotics.
IoT for the SDGs
Making our lives more convenient is one thing but it is vital that we also focus on it’s potential to address some of the most important human, economical and environmental needs. If done right, it could directly contribute to helping achieve specific targets in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For this to take place governments and policy-makers from developed and developing countries must be encouraged to examine the future challenges and benefits to their economies and speed up global competitiveness of their economy, region, continent and people by establishing strategies to leverage IoT for SDGs.
Why then has Europe seemingly fallen behind in the race to 5G? The short answer is politics. Industry insiders say that telecom companies would struggle to justify the huge investments needed due to low growth in the mobile sector, a lack of consolidation and copious amounts of regulation at both the European and national levels.
An increase in connectivity between devices like your phone and home could add nearly €330 billion to the European economy by 2020. So what must be done to ensure Europe does not miss the chance to lead the next tech revolution?
Infrastructure, collaboration and talent
To achieve full digital transformation across all sectors of the economy, and indeed society, several actions need to be taken now in Europe:
1. The regulatory regime needs to be relaxed to promote digital infrastructure investment.
A favourable regulatory environment is needed to leverage funds for investment and foster innovation. Although big changes are needed if Europe is to catch up in the technological race, all is not lost.
2. The digital transformation of industry needs to be speeded up through a collaborative and open ecosystem.
It has already taken steps to put in place regulation that can deliver digital transformation. It’s Digital Single Market plan creates a framework in which this process can unfold, and important initiatives to implement it have been taken since its adoption.
3. It is vital that digital skills are improved in Small and Medium-sized enterprises and among European citizens in general.
The development of skills needs to made a priority. Decision-makers must ensure that programs are adapted to equip younger generations with ICT skills necessary to navigate the ever-changing technological world. Cooperation and collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential here as companies can give young people an advantage by providing them with hands on experience in ICT-driven working environments.
Business in action
Huawei, one of the world’s leading global ICT solutions provider, is putting this into practice through its Seeds of the Future training scheme. Initiated in 2008, the program continues to develop local ICT talent, enhance knowledge transfer, promote a greater understanding of and interest in the telecommunications sector, and improve and encourage regional building and participation in the digital community.
With 33 European participating countries, this talent program selects top students for a study trip to Huawei’s headquarters in China. By maintaining a high level of investment in Europe and joining forces with customers, industry partners and public authorities, companies like Huawei can help achieve sustainable growth across sectorial and geographical boundaries.
Advancements in ICT are shaping the world we live in and examining the values we live by. Technology continues to prove that it can be used for the benefit of mankind, but only if we set sail on the right course and with the right companions. The message is clear – Europe must not fall further behind in the next great race.