The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) CxO meeting hosted by Telecom Review, in collaboration with du, welcomed industry leaders physically and virtually to explore the new industry dynamics and trends within the ICT sector.

The presentations of participating companies were divided into five main areas: 5G, sustainability, artificial intelligence, supply chain, and network performance. Spokespeople from Nokia Bell Labs, pureLiFi, China Telecom, ZTE, du, Etisalat, Orange, Huawei, Roborace, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), Sama Partners, Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), and umlaut graced the meeting with their current developments and expectations/recommendations/proposals to ITU.

The exclusive gathering was moderated by Chaesub Lee, the director of ITU telecommunication standardization bureau (TSB) and Dr. Bilel Jamoussi, chief of the study groups department at ITU TSB.

“This CxO meeting is another consultation group to advise and listen regarding recent industry requirements. This is a great moment to know what the industry is expecting from international standard organizations like ITU,” said Lee during his opening remarks. With 5G being a dominant factor within the discussion, Lee noted that they wish to encourage the industry in a dialogue on “how 5G can empower digital transformation, its economic influence, use cases from operators, and other possible solutions in the industry,” through a consolidated report.

Sharing some executive briefings, Jamoussi pointed out that about 4,000 standards are available for free and open to download on the ITU website. They have also welcomed new communities, from the automotive, aerospace, and financial sectors, among others as ICT becomes necessary for digital transformation. By numbers, 485 companies are now ITU members and 11 study groups are now conducting relevant studies on traditional telecom, machine learning, AI, financial services, and eSports, to name a few. “ITU in a sense is unique in the United Nations as an ICT organization that has the private sector and governments as members. That’s why we developed international standards that are adopted worldwide,” expressed Jamoussi.

During the CxO meeting, Toni Eid, founder of Telecom Review and CEO of Trace Media International, and Eng. Mohamed Ben Amor, director general, Arab ICT organization (AICTO), received special certifications as esteemed members of ITU.


The first to present under the 5G theme, Saleem Alblooshi, chief technology officer, du, presented about 5G business case. He tackled monetization; enabling the API economy and commercial ambitions; the “go digital or go home” top-down driven mindset; the target architecture consisting of 5G, cloud, and AI; telecom operators role to be part of ITU study groups; launching 5G SA to unveil true power; engagement with strategic partners; and green energy initiative. “IoT, connectivity, data center, and the computing capabilities, as a telecom operator, these four domains are our core competency. As an enabler for all this digital transformation, telecom is positioned in the right place. However, it requires more engagement with stakeholders, maybe with the study groups, in order to be able to understand more,” discussed Alblooshi.

Fuad Siddiqui, executive partner and vice president, Nokia Bell Labs, tackled monetizing 5G and private networks, mentioning transforming industries to augmented industries and how the telecom sector is pivoting into a trusted digital value broker. Stressing how the adoption of 5G+ technologies to digitalize industries requires global alignment with local initiatives, Siddiqui elaborated, “There's a lot of good work happening across different industries in different forums. We must highlight and disseminate the role of 5G+, because if we don't take a long-term value creation aspect, then we might be risking short-term benefit gains. The faster you digitalize, the faster you will have higher productivity and higher reduction of waste.”

Dr. Qi Bi, president of China Telecom technology innovation center spoke about how China Unicom and China Telecom maximized their respective resources through network sharing and co-construction. Challenges for joint network development & sharing model include joint deployment strategy, E2E network slicing, uniform experience, and business differentiation while strategies for this purpose include unified planning, region-wise deployment, coordinated maintenance, and joint optimization.

Wang Xinhui, director of wireless standardization and industrial relations, ZTE, covered 5G empowering digital transformation. Citing the ZTE Binjiang Smart Factory as an example of manufacturing 5G with 5G, the company continues to ally with global partners — 15+ industries resulting in 86+ innovative 5G application scenarios. Among ZTE’s expectations on ITU-T are enhancing the global standardization of 5G empowered verticals to boost the 5G industrial ecosystem and providing an inclusive platform for cross-sector collaboration between vertical applications and 5G technologies.

Abdulhadi AbouAlmal, head of technology standardization and spectrum management, Etisalat focused on the topic of Open RAN. Motivations towards Open RAN are decoupling HW &SW, open standardized interfaces, network virtualization using COTS HW, multi-stakeholders, avoiding RAN vendors lock-in, and cost optimization of RAN infrastructure. In parallel, Open RAN challenges to be addressed are multi-stakeholders RAN components interoperability, system integration, security aspects, cloud infrastructure & transport network availability, and capabilities/features limitations at the early development stage.


Amid the presentations regarding AI, Lee commented that AI has a very special power that makes it good for the community. This proves the executive’s stance as the pioneer of the AI for Good initiative. Bryn Balcombe, chief strategy officer, Roborace & Founder of ADA.ngo, shared that AI can help reduce global road traffic fatalities by 50% when 2030 comes.

Fathi Abdeldayem, lead standardization, du, cited the UAE AI 2031 strategy and the company’s own initiatives when it comes to AI awareness and adoption. The peak of his presentation is the proposal of having a unified MENA AI-ML platform to be called MENA Sandbox, which is an AI-ML engine based on ITU, GSMA, and other standard bodies. Abdeldayem indicated the importance of collaboration between ITU and GSMA.

Noah Luo, senior standards and strategic expert, Huawei Technologies exhibited the opportunities for revenue generation between AI and multimedia. “AI is so powerful and versatile to change the landscape and create many unthinkable miracles,” a statement from Luo’s slides. He also showed digital services and video-center services showing that current multimedia technologies are serving 5G quite well. Among Huawei’s messages and proposals are having regional perspectives for a comprehensive understanding, establishing a multi-SDO workshop, broadening the horizon for more common work projects, and achieving strength-based mutual complementariness.

Sustainability, supply chain, network performance

Talking about green networks, Claire Chauvin, strategy architecture and standardization director, Orange, shared the company’s Engage 2025 strategy which aims to make a lasting commitment to digital equality and the planet. As it is needed to work together to reduce the environmental impact, Orange’s ITU proposal includes the idea of setting up a simplified environmental footprint assessment system for network equipment and setting up rules for network equipment life cycle assessment.

Focusing on the global supply chain, David Stehlin, CEO of TIA, shared about SCS 9001, the ICT industry’s first comprehensive and measurable supply chain security standard, set to be released in Q4 2021. It has ICT-specific and measurable standards where trust principles will be publicly visible. On the other hand, Ali Mabrouk, CEO and managing director, Sama Partners business solutions, presented the importance of cyber threat intelligence (CTI) for supply chain security. “Trust should be proved before it’s earned,” said Mabrouk, reiterating that CTI is about giving face to what is happening under the surface. On the same topic, Mike Nawrocki, vice president, technology and solutions, ATIS, emphasized that the supply chain is mission-critical to the ICT industry but 5G is redefining the need for an adaptable yet verifiable approach. Operators then exist in the middle between high assurance customers and trusted suppliers. ATIS 5G supply chain standard is progressing toward publication in early 2022.

Ralf Pabst, business unit lead, R&D, umlaut shared about how umlaut score serves as a management tool that delivers a robust scale to assess network quality and performance. This score is coupled with a unified measurement methodology. In the latest 2021 results, Europe, the US, and single Asian countries are leading in speed score.

The latest ITU Communiqué will be available across Telecom Review websites and LinkedIn pages.

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