Carlos Cabrera Massanés
General Director, Institut Cerdà

Tony Jin Yong, CEO of Huawei Iberia, recently stated that “connection is one of the drivers not only of digital transformation, but also of personal relationships. In the current context is precisely when both connections are closer than ever.” The current pandemic has led us to integrate into our daily lives trends that were expected to be adopted in the future but which we had not yet adopted as general practice. One of these trends has very clearly been the role of telecommunications in integrating and enhancing social relations and enabling the subsistence of economic activities. Today, a society without digital communications options would be the equivalent of a society without electric light in the last century.

Despite this critical role of telecommunications in maintaining the economy and personal connections during this crisis, in some areas, possibly precisely because of this fundamental role, the essential nature of telecommunications as a service has been questioned, linking telecoms to alleged damages such as social control or negative impacts on health. Despite this, the reality is that without an efficient network of connectivity infrastructures, this crisis would have had much greater catastrophic dimensions. The debate is positive and necessary, as long as its focus is on bringing improvements rather than destroying or hindering progress that is already seen as essential in a world subject to unpredictable fluctuations.

But it is not enough just to accept that the dual functionality of this sector, facilitating social connectivity and sustaining economic activity, has been key today. We have still to specify many variables about the possibilities that the development of new technologies, particularly 5G, offer to multiply our social and economic capacities. And precisely, to give the best response to the negative perceptions that are being generated these days, we must work to develop transparent, participatory, and orderly models for the deployment of infrastructure and services. In other words, network models that, through processes of competitive concurrence and in collaboration with administrations, prove to be at the service of all telecommunications operators and of society in general, guaranteeing both the sustainability of investments and the public interest and the security and privacy of individuals. The success of the model also depends on working to promote knowledge, satisfy social expectations, and disclose the real nature of these new technologies.

In this crisis, telecommunications have risen to the podium of essential and even basic services to guarantee both the subsistence of economic activity and personal development. Now, the great opportunity lies in promoting the definitive leap for the development of true digital transformation, which will enable us to strengthen the practices, habits and new realities that are allowing us to overcome this situation and that allow us to develop new digital resources to face future crises. The world is going to change and for that change to work requires an increasingly powerful, advanced, and secure telecommunications network. The first step to achieving this is to define and share the model for the management, implementation, and exploitation of the network.