Emerging Trends | ICT4SDG | SDG1
November 6, 2013

ITU Telecom World: the future of communications is our future

By Blaise Judja-Sato

Communication, you could argue, is what makes us human. It’s an essential part of our lives, families, societies and civilisation. We have gestured, talked and written to each other over thousands of years, first locally, then more widely, and now increasingly globally. Telecommunications, communicating at and over a distance, enabled this enormous increase in the range of our contact with each other – and has led directly to the information and communication (ICT) revolution currently affecting every area of our lives to a previously unprecedented extent.

Understanding the implications of this revolution, the opportunities and challenges it presents to the industry and to the people of the world, is the core topic of ITU Telecom World 2013 held in Bangkokthis November.

ICTs are the backbone of everything we do, the core infrastructure behind public services, transport, health, finance, every sector of our daily lives. And the pace of change brought by new technological developments is speeding up. We already have more computing power in our pockets in the form of a smartphone than NASA did when putting a man on the moon some forty years ago.  We have portable encyclopaedias of human knowledge and information, geo location pinpointing our every move, shopping possibilities beyond the largest imaginable mall, a library of films and games it would take a lifetime to enjoy, and multiple ways to communicate with our friends and the world, from social media to instant messaging, emails and even the old-fashioned voice call.

That’s all just part of what a current smartphone can offer us right now. But the radical transformation the ICT sector is experiencing promises to overturn our world once more, quicker, better, faster and with more far-reaching impact than ever before. The Internet of Things will enable machines to talk to machines, cutting us out of the communication chain entirely at this level, with smart grids, smart transport, smart solutions managing our lives in ever smarter cities. As sectors converge to bring you ICT-powered education or health, for example, regulatory frameworks, systems of governance and standards must adapt to cope. Software defined networks, end-to-end IP-based communications, unlimited and low cost processing and storage and developments in data analysis are reshaping the fundamental structure of the ICT industry.  Consumers are increasingly driving changes, by favouring different methods of communication over voice calls, by huge consumption of data and information leading to explosive demands for bandwidth, and through the changing role of the end-user, producing and creating content, solutions and applications.

The impact of all these changes happening in parallel is what we’ll be discussing at ITU Telecom World 2013 through a series of interactive panel debates, workshops and showfloor sessions. The event brings together leading representatives of the ICT industry from the public and private sector, CEOs and ministers, innovative thinkers, consultants and academics from developed and developing economies alike to share ideas and best practices, shape strategies, policies and business models, connect individuals and ideas in conversation.

Communication like this inspires and informs the industry. And the ICT sector is uniquely positioned to drive socio-economic development – the enormous power of mobile, of broadband and of the internet allows developing markets to leapfrog developmental stages, to be propelled into a connected future where the playing field is levelled, to provide improved services and quality of life wherever you live, and to unleash the great untapped potential of all the world’s citizens.

We hope you’ll be able to join us at ITU Telecom World 2013, in Bangkok or online, and join the conversation that really matters.

See you in Bangkok this November.

By: Blaise Judja-Sato

Blaise Judja-Sato is the Executive Manager of the Telecom Secretariat at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and oversees the leading ITU Telecom World event, an annual highlight in the global ICT events calendar.

Throughout his career he has been involved with organizations and projects which use information and technology to address global societal challenges and provide economic opportunities for all, working with the likes of AT&T International, the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation, Google.org and VillageReach, a US-based social enterprise with field operations in three African countries.

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