Connectivity to Empowerment: Building a Digital Future on WTISD 2023

Connectivity to Empowerment: Building a Digital Future on WTISD 2023

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is celebrated annually on May 17th. It serves as a global observance to raise awareness about the importance of communication and information technologies in our society. This special day highlights the potential of these technologies to bridge the digital divide, foster development, and create a more inclusive and equitable information society.

Each year, WTISD focuses on a specific theme that reflects the current challenges and opportunities in the field of telecommunication and information technology. The chosen theme serves as a focal point for discussions, events, and initiatives organized around the world to explore innovative solutions and collaborations.

Over the past decade, the challenge of connectivity has evolved into a more complex and demanding task. Simply bringing everyone online is no longer sufficient. The new imperative is meaningful connectivity – the ability to have a safe, satisfying, enriching, productive, and affordable online experience. Unfortunately, least developed countries (LDCs) continue to face significant challenges in achieving this level of connectivity. The digital divide between LDCs and the rest of the world shows little sign of narrowing, and the risk of falling further behind is evident. As the world becomes increasingly adept at leveraging the Internet for value creation, LDCs are at risk of being left even further behind.

In recognition of these challenges, this year's World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) focus on the theme of "Empowering the least developed countries through information and communication technologies." The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) calls upon both the public and private sectors to make pledges for universal connectivity and digital transformation in these countries through its Partner2Connect Digital Coalition.

As we reach the midpoint in the agenda to fulfil the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it is crucial to acknowledge that LDCs represent the world's greatest untapped resource. Meeting the needs of these young and vibrant nations is essential for achieving the SDGs. Investing in LDCs can drive sustainable growth that will benefit generations to come. Let us join hands and make 2023 a year of significant progress for digital transformation in the least developed countries.

Bringing meaningful connectivity to LDCs requires addressing the digital divide. It is not merely about providing access but ensuring that the connectivity enables individuals to have a positive and impactful online experience. This involves affordable and reliable access to the internet, as well as measures to promote digital literacy and skills development. By closing the digital divide, LDCs can fully participate in the digital economy, access vital services, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, initiated by ITU, provides a platform for collaboration between the public and private sectors to support universal connectivity and digital transformation in LDCs. This coalition encourages stakeholders to make commitments and take concrete actions to bridge the digital gap. By leveraging the expertise, resources, and knowledge of governments, international organizations, corporations, and civil society, we can accelerate progress and empower LDCs to realize their full potential.

Investing in the digital transformation of LDCs goes beyond connectivity alone. It involves building digital skills and literacy, nurturing local innovation, supporting entrepreneurship, and ensuring a safe and secure digital environment. Capacity building programs, knowledge sharing initiatives, and targeted investments in education and training can empower individuals and communities within LDCs, enabling them to thrive in the digital era.

Amit Marwah, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs (CMO), Nokia India said, “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 said, “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 said, “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 said, "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 said, “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 said, "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.”

Rahul Tandon, Sr. Vice President, IDEMIA India said, “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.”