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MEF Programme Director James Williams hosted a panel discussion exploring how the mobile tech industry is performing with regards to education and getting the world’s population connected.

Over half of all web traffic worldwide comes from mobile users and it is clear that mobile internet usage is increasing rapidly. According to WARC 72% of all internet users will solely use smartphones to access the web by 2025.

Almost two-thirds of the world own some form of connected mobile device but what about the couple of billion people who still have no connectivity? What is the mobile ecosystem doing to bring these people on board?

On average the mobile industry makes up 4.6 per cent of GDP overall globally (Statista) but this figure is far higher in countries such as Nigeria where this figure is over 10%. There is an important business angle to mobile.

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We keep hearing how important Telecommunications is to the development of the world but as with so much else in life, there is a growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Is the industry doing enough to address this important issue? What should it be doing?

All of the above formed the basis for our discussion, during MEF’s 20th anniversary week. Joining me were four industry heavyweights with vast experience in the mobile domain globally:

Issues such as 5G are important but the whole mobile ecosystem needs to understand that there are still so many people around the world who are not connected at all… Our industry has a great opportunity to help the world but we need to do more.”

  • Jason Lunn, SVP Commercial with IMImobile
  • Matt Ekram, Director Americas with Infinite Convergence Solutions
  • Andrey Insarov, CEO with Intis Telecom
  • Tim Ward, Sales and Marketing VP with XConnect

MEF Board members had been asked to consult their own crystal balls and share with us all what they believed would unfold across the ecosystem as 2021 progresses and I took the opportunity to do exactly that with panellists. It would have been rude not to…

Andrey Insarov has a decade of experience leading his business Intis Telecom, a global Business Messaging company with a particular focus on Russia and the CIS, and he stressed the importance of assuming nothing and going back to basics: “Issues such as 5G are important but the whole mobile ecosystem needs to understand that there are still so many people around the world who are not connected at all. We should never forget this or lose sight of the fact that there are real people, customers, at the end of everything we do. Our industry has a great opportunity to help the world but we need to do more.

A lot of the countries my company Intis Telecom works in are underdeveloped but what I say next is relevant everywhere – do not assume people know. Educate people about why our world of mobile can make a real difference to their lives, making things easier and better. This is very important and I think members of MEF can really help”

Matt Ekram from Infinite Convergence Solutions in the USA left us with zero doubt as to what his key takeaways from the webinar was “Educating the mobile ecosystem is essential, and more important than ever. Mobile technology and ecosystem has been the catalyst for growth, innovation, inclusion and bridging economic gap, among other benefits. I would like to see mobile promoting greater equal access and educating responsible consumption of mobile.

We should view developing mobile as part of a holistic vision to addresses some of the global concerns today, from immediate healthcare issues , to promoting wealth equality and addressing other global challenges.

The acceleration of digitalization adoption, partly due to the pandemic, will impact the direction of mobile.  I expect mobile to innovate beyond our current thinking. I wouldn’t want to predict but expect to be surprised ! I do believe Gen Y and Z will influence the direction of mobile in 2021.”

Jason Lunn, SVP Commercial with IMImobile added “MEF has made great progress in educating enterprises, mobile operators & service providers, which eventually lead to a better world for citizens.

This session was great to talk through the progress made, particularly recently from MEF’s work in areas like the Fraud Framework, which MEF has led and is now mandatory reading for anyone working in/with the mobile industry.  We have lots more to do and as an industry body, together we can help make a difference, as every interaction matters. “

When asked what grade he would give the Mobile industry when addressing the challenge of connecting the almost two billion people currently unconnected around the world, Tim Ward from XConnect stated that “while 70% market penetration (of smartphones) would be seen as astonishing from a marketing point of view, the goal in education is to create a level playing field and only 100% will do”. Clearly not a perfect scorecard from Tim.

With so many of us now forced to work from home whether we’d care to or not, Tim talked about the complexities this brings with it: “Working from home requires a rethink of the role of a mobile phone….Where Mobility used to be the benefit, security, validation and multifactor are now the “must haves” and we all need educating to get these benefits”.

Asked to consult his crysal ball re. what to expect this year, Tim closed by saying that: “This year will be about building trust. .. by knowing where a message has come from, where its going and knowing that all the supply chain follow the same rules.”

Here at MEF we could not agree more. It’s no longer just about enterprises knowing their (your) customers (KYC), end customers have got in on the act too: people want to be able to trust that the entity sending them content really is who they profess to be – what I call ‘Know Your Sender’, KYS. After all the whole ecosystem is here to serve and protect subscribers, customers.

James Williams

Director of Programmes, MEF