GSMA - MWC 2023
As the tech industry looks for solutions to the challenge of how it can promote the development of the global digital economy, a report from Huawei, together with EI Studios and GSMA Intelligence, has outlined ways the industry can achieve these goals and how connectivity, computing and green ICT can vitalise the digital economy.
The report, Driving development: The impact of ICT investments on the digital economy, is based on a survey conducted in December 2022 involving 500 individuals worldwide, comprising 400 corporate executives, 50 decision-makers and 50 institutional investors. EI Studios also invited executives from top international strategic consulting firms, world-renowned operators and industry organisations to participate in detailed interviews, through which it says it obtained a large amount of key information.
The study elaborates the new trends in the global digital economy in the post-pandemic era, and quantitatively and qualitatively assesses the relationship between ICT investment and development of the global digital economy.
Fundamentally, the report made the bold conclusion that ICT infrastructure and the industry digitisation it enables are set to drive the fourth industrial revolution, similar to how steam power and mechanisation drove the first industrial revolution three centuries ago.
It noted just how the contribution of the digital economy to global GDP has been steadily growing over the past few years. The report cited third-party data showing that by 2023, the digital economy will account for more than a half of global GDP. Investors believe that Southeast Asia will experience the fastest digital economy growth over the next 10 years, followed by North America and Western Europe.
The report observed that 5G is a now an established major global trend, and intergenerational evolution increases economic benefits by 15%. GSMA Intelligence data predicts there will be 9.8 billion mobile connections in 2030, 5.3 billion of which will be 5G. At the same time, the percentage of 2G, 3G and 4G mobile connections will decline, and 5G will become mainstream. According to a GSMA Intelligence survey of global operators in 2022, 91% of operators surveyed said 5G connectivity services – such as, mobile and fixed wireless access – were now their top priority.
GSMA research also found that over a long period in the past, a 10% increase in mobile adoption increased GDP by 1% on average. The economic benefits increased by approximately 15% when connections upgraded from one mobile network technology to a more advanced one – 2G to 3G, and 3G to 4G, for example. This is a clear indicator of how the intergenerational evolution of networks from 4G to 5G, and even to 5.5G, will be a key contributor to GDP growth.
The study added that 5G technology could boost the digital economy. It stressed there was intense focus on technology adoption and implementation, such as the increased use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud and edge computing.
However, it emphasised that the base requirement for all of these advances was the availability of high-speed, reliable 5G network connectivity, and even the more advanced 5.5G. It warned that without sustained investment in networks, the gains from technological developments would be limited.
The study showed how ICT investments traditionally focus on connectivity and computing, but highlighted how green ICT has developed into a third key area in this respect. It made the point that a combination of efforts across these three key areas would continuously stimulate the digital economy and facilitate sustainable development.
“The 5G prosperity worldwide is driving the digital economy, and the Driving development: The impact of ICT investments on the digital economy report is coming out at the right time,” said Philip Song, chief marketing officer of Huawei Carrier Business.
“The key data and conclusions in the report prove the contributions of ICT infrastructure to the digital economy, while also reflecting global operators’ expectations to build on the success of 5G to make the leap to 5.5G,” he added.
“Huawei calls on operators and industry partners around the world to work together and use the GUIDE business blueprint to lead the world into a better future.”
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