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What’s next for digital infrastructure? A Revolution!

Picture of Rajeev Suri, President & CEO, Nokia

Interview with Rajeev Suri, President & CEO of Nokia and Co-Chair of the B20 Digitalization Taskforce

Everybody agrees that high-quality digital infrastructure is the key enabler to any sort of digitalization and related benefits. What exactly needs to be done for an enabling digital infrastructure?

It is absolutely correct to say that high-quality infrastructure is vital to sustaining digitalization and developing further towards a programmable world.
It is important, first of all, to get the regulatory framework right.

This means regulation that does not impair operators’ revenues and choice of business models. Revenue is the lifeblood that will foster a strong, healthy, growing global digital infrastructure.

Instead, smart regulation is vital for sustaining an economy where investors can support network deployments and upgrades with a sense of security, and where risk-takers can earn rewards.

There are important issues to address. We need policies to ease fiber deployment, for instance by opening access to city ducts. And we need the creation of a framework to facilitate the deployment of ultra-dense small cell networks – with simplified approval procedures.

The second thing to get right is spectrum availability. Spectrum is finite and incredibly valuable. We must use and share it wisely to create the most efficient connectivity we can. That means guaranteeing spectrum for 5G networks. Investors have to know that spectrum will be available for 5G, or the networks will not get built.
Thirdly, 5G networks require huge amounts of R&D. Collaboration and interactions are increasing in our connected world, and with this the possibility to illicitly copy inventions or use them without permission or financial compensation. It is therefore crucial to provide sound IPR and especially patent protection. Those investing heavily in innovation should be able to get fair and reasonable compensation for their efforts.

Why is digital infrastructure a topic for the G20? What role can international cooperation and coordination play?

It is a topic for the G20 because a global approach is crucial to ensuring that no one is left behind. All G20 countries are committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and digitalization plays a key role in achieving almost all of them. For instance, digitalization opens access to good-quality education and health care globally. We need to find the wisdom as a connected global community to make sure we take that chance.

International cooperation is essential to making digitalization happen – cyberspace knows no borders: cybersecurity, privacy, and spectrum must be addressed globally.
Overall, digital infrastructure and 5G offers the power to transform industry and society by the connection of everything and by enabling automation. It opens up untold opportunities to make industry more efficient, more productive, safer, and cleaner.
Take transport. Driverless vehicles are closer to universal reality than most people imagine. At Nokia we are also building systems that can link transport across entire cities, using automation and the Internet of Things to integrate transport seamlessly by linking cars, buses, trains, and planes.

That clearly plays into our ambition to cut carbon emissions and protect our planet, as well as make life simpler, more efficient, and more pleasant for citizens. It brings the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals into much clearer focus.

It’s hard to keep up with the innovation of the digital economy. What’s next for digital infrastructure?

A revolution!

The term “infrastructure” will no longer fit. We are talking about the “nervous system of society”. This “nervous system” weaves together the different technologies to create a seamless web of interconnected intelligence that underpins and enables our digital lives, enhancing how we live and work.

The next digital infrastructures will be cognitive and adaptive, with security deeply embedded. Their access will be at massive scale, and with dramatically low latency – meaning 1 millisecond compared to today’s 30 milliseconds. Many technological breakthroughs are still required, and Nokia is at the forefront to make these happen.

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