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Ericsson floats ‘national CTO’ roles


Ericsson’s Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Erik Ekudden, has put forward the idea of creating ‘national CTO’ positions.

Ekudden says a national CTO would have a big-picture view and bring various stakeholders together to ensure the right policies are in place for societies to capitalise on the social and economic benefits of 5G.

Writing in a blog post, Ekudden wrote: “Digital transformation is occurring at an unprecedented rate, and there is a risk that if we are not leveraging 5G effectively, the whole economy will suffer.”

A long-term view

According to Ekudden, a national CTO’s first job would be to create a “blueprint for digital inclusion” to ensure countries have the right infrastructure, policies, strategies and services to support 5G.
He also said a national CTO could help policy-makers take a longer-term view of the economic benefits of 5G, rather than seeking immediate ROI – and this could drive down spectrum costs, presumably leaving the operators with more money to invest in network equipment.

“If governments refrained from extracting the maximum monetary fees when awarding licences, this would free up the funds set aside for 5G infrastructure by operators,” Ekudden explained. “A nation’s CTO would be able to see these benefits, and could mediate and set the priorities needed to stimulate an open and competitive market that would drive innovation for all.”

Perhaps this would also avoid situations such as that in Germany: Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone are taking the regulator to court over the terms and conditions attached to the 5G spectrum licences, which the operators claim mean they cannot make ROI. The auction started last Friday.

A shared challenge

Another important part of a national CTO’s role would be developing policies to enable enterprises to leverage 5G capabilities such as network slicing.

Ekudden called for greater collaboration around 5G, noting, “It is only by working together that we can create strategies that will address the current needs of society and create a lasting impact for future generations. Regardless of who tackles these challenges, governments and ICT players share a responsibility to make tomorrow better than today.”