World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2023 | Insights from Industry Leaders

World Telecommunication Day

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is observed each year on May 17 to improve global awareness about the immense potential of the Internet and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in shaping societies and economies. Its primary objective is to bridge the digital divide and foster widespread access to emerging technologies and connectivity through collaborative efforts on a global scale.

Over the past decade, the connectivity challenge has become more complex and demanding. Bringing everyone online is no longer enough. Meaningful connectivity – the possibility to enjoy a safe, satisfying, enriching, productive and affordable online experience – is the new imperative.

For least developed countries (LDCs), this remains a major challenge. The digital divide between LDCs and the rest of the world shows little sign of narrowing. The risk is all too evident. As the world becomes increasingly adept at leveraging the Internet for value creation, LDCs risk falling further behind.

This year, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) focuses on “Empowering the least developed countries through information and communication technologies.” The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) calls on the public and private sectors to make pledges for universal connectivity and digital transformation in these countries through its Partner2Connect Digital Coalition.

The International Telecommunications Union Logo

The aim behind the observance is to raise awareness of the potential of the internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) in bringing societies and economies together by bridging the digital divide.

The telcos are uniquely positioned to bring connectivity to underserved areas, and as they transition to technology companies, they are bringing innovative mobile solutions that are transforming lives, creating opportunities, and contributing to sustainable development.

On the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, here are some comments from the industry experts.

Rahul Tandon, Sr. Vice President, IDEMIA India

“On this World Telecommunication Day, we celebrate the power of connectivity and the role that telecommunications technology plays in shaping our world. As a leading telecom SIM and technology provider, we understand the critical importance of reliable and secure communication for individuals and businesses alike. We are proud to be part of a global community that is working to build a more connected and inclusive world, where everyone has access to the information and resources they need to thrive. So let us use this day to reflect on the power of telecommunications to transform lives and build a brighter future for all. Together, we can harness the full potential of technology to create a better world.”

Amit Marwah, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs (CMO), Nokia India

“On the occasion of World Telecom Day, Nokia once again reaffirms to creating technology that helps the world act together. For 30 years, Nokia has defined and enabled the world with technologies like 2G to 5G used to transform the way the world communicates, and at the same time helping in digitalizing societies to bridge the digital divide. Our leadership arises from a clear vision of the future of communications as outlined in our purpose and strategy. The adoption of Nokia-pioneered technology innovations will help people and planet to be more sustainable and resourceful. As communication networks become an ever-more critical infrastructure in the modern digital world, our innovations will ensure that tomorrow’s trusted networks can be built to transform the industries, cities and society to be smarter and much more efficient. We are committed to supporting a greener world which can enhance lives for the better.”

Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India

“Telecom Industry is growing towards a new phase of digital transformation and is poised to significantly propel development across industries while creating more personalized and better user experiences. New-gen technologies like the Internet of Things, 5G, 6G, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, Metaverse, and AR/VR are ushering in a new wave of innovations. MediaTek remains focused on R&D in new-age technologies like 5G, edge computing, and AIoT, which are required to drive the growth of the telecom industry and is also supporting the user’s needs in areas like connectivity and networking, such as bringing reliable two-way satellite communications, telemedicine, and remote education among others. The IT sector has revolutionized the entire world and spearheaded technological innovations by allowing people to stay connected everywhere & all the time.”

Manish Vyas, President, Communications, Media and Entertainment Business, and CEO, Network Services, Tech Mahindra

“As of February this year, we have over a billion active wireless lines in India, with a Teledensity of 84.46 lines per 100 persons. The number of internet broadband subscribers is inching towards a billion, with the number at 839.18Mn as of Jan this year. The mobile speeds in India have increased by 115% since the launch of 5G in Sep 2022. As we celebrate World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, I salute the telecom Industry and strongly believe that connectivity can transform countries by breaking down the barriers to literacy and healthcare, and equipping them with better employment opportunities and societal empowerment. “
At Tech Mahindra, our focus is on using cutting-edge technologies to simplify and modernize networks in both developing and developed countries. Additionally, we have created a Task Force on 6G, because we believe that constant evolution and innovation in telecom technology is the key to driving transformation globally.”

Arvind Bali, CEO, Telecom Sector Skill Council

“As the telecom sector in India moves ahead in the 5G revolution and aims towards achieving 6G capabilities by 2030, the need for skilled technical manpower becomes even more critical. India currently faces a 2.19mn telecom demand-supply gap, which is expected to increase to 3.8 times by 2030. Through strategic partnerships with industry leaders, training institutes, and the support of the government, we aim to train over 1 lac and place more than 1.25 lac youth in cutting-edge technologies such as 5G, network virtualization, and IoT in this year. We believe, with the right reskilling and hiring techniques by targeting adjacent talent in Tier-II & III cities and University supply, India has a robust opportunity to narrow the widening demand-supply gap by 2030. The skilled workforce will be the backbone in empowering the development of our growing economy. As we move towards a connected future, TSSC remains steadfast in its mission to provide industry-relevant training, foster innovation, and create a talent pool equipped to thrive in the dynamic and growing landscape of the telecom sector in India.”

Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt (Retd.), Director General, Indian Space Association

“As the 5G revolution gains momentum in India, satellite broadband will also be a key differentiator to bridge the digital divide in the country. High-quality broadband connectivity is critical for economic growth and prosperity, as we have seen globally and in India. The urban-rural divide remains severe with nearly 75% of rural India lacking access to broadband and many locations still lacking reliable cellular or fibre connectivity. There is a massive scope in India for the space-based solutions that are necessary to be harnessed owing to the massive demand generation taking place with the rise in mobile banking, online education, etc. Satellite communication will prove to be a gamechanger in the coming decade with its immense capability to reach the remotest of areas and connect the unconnected to actualize the vision of a Digital Bharat.”

Manoranjan Mohapatra, CEO, Comviva

“As telcos are uniquely positioned to bring connectivity to underserved areas, and as they transition to technology companies, they are bringing innovative mobile solutions that are transforming lives, creating opportunities, and contributing to sustainable development. We have always been at the forefront and playing significant role in empowering people and businesses with our innovative mobile solutions. We remain committed to driving digital inclusion and empowering the underprivileged communities in the world with the power of communications and other emerging technologies. Today, we celebrate the transformative power of technology to connect people, bridge the digital divide, and drive progress.”

Broadband India Forum Advocates for Inclusive Development

Approximately two-thirds of the population in the least developed countries (LDCs) lack access to the Internet, facing barriers such as inadequate infrastructure, affordability, and skills. “We are in a race against time to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General. “The year 2023 brings together the 5th United Nations Conference on the LDCs to accelerate sustainable development in the places where investments and international assistance are most needed. At the same time, the world’s least developed countries are the planet’s greatest untapped resource. Investment in these young vibrant countries can help drive sustainable growth for generations.”

BIF wholeheartedly embraces the objective of using ICT for inclusive development and staunchly advocates for universal accessibility, affordability, and availability of the Internet. BIF firmly upholds the principles of inclusivity, technology neutrality, and the comprehensive utilization of all technologies to guarantee reliable internet access for all individuals, particularly those situated at the bottom of the economic and social hierarchy who are most in need of it today.

The least developed countries demand paramount attention from the international community. Given that a significant majority of individuals in these countries reside in rural areas, it is imperative that affordable and consistently accessible information and communication technologies (ICTs) serve as an essential tool for rural connectivity. Such ICT infrastructure not only enhances productivity but also elevates the economic and social well-being of the people. The transformative power of ICTs empowers individuals and communities, fostering equity, sustainability, and contributing to global peace, prosperity, and stability.

TV Ramachandran, President of BIF, said, “ICTs can be a catalyst for development and change, and we are committed to making them accessible to all. We recognize that the challenges facing the least developed countries are complex and multifaceted, but we also believe that there is immense potential for using ICTs to address these challenges and create a better future for all.”