Ludwigshafen rarely gets to see such political prominence – leading representatives from business and research are going to get together with government ministers at the two-day 2017 Digital Summit held by the German federal government on June 12 and 13, 2017.
In addition to Chancellor Angela Merkel, not only the ministers involved in the federal government's digitization agenda but also Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe and Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka are expected at the summit along with the prime ministers, their deputies and responsible ministers of the states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg. And, last but not least, mention should also be made of the representatives of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region which will be hosting this year's digital summit. Several hundred participants are expected in Ludwigshafen and the surrounding areas. At the Pfalzbau convention center in Ludwigshafen, visitors can look forward to a packed program of talks, discussions and events. And in the thick of things you can surely expect to find Deutsche Telekom which, at this year's summit too, will have an important say in the relevant fields of digitization.
High-profile representatives from Deutsche Telekom will be present at all panels and discussion rounds – on the smart city, cyber security, e-health or smart mobility – with the aim of contributing to the key message of the summit: connected living for a better life. This year, the Deutsche Telekom delegation will be headed by Reinhard Clemens who will be representing Tim Höttges.
Despite criticism during the early days, the summit – the eleventh installment, renamed Digital Summit this year – has grown to be a major digitization platform for government, business and research.
And the record so far is quite impressive. The fact that Germany began to release spectrum for mobile communications early on and has thereby assumed a leading role in the EU's spectrum policy is, to some extent, thanks to the intensive dialog between policymakers and businesses in the previous IT summits. Industry representatives are now looking forward to a similar impetus and strategies for 5G technology which will amalgamate fixed and mobile communications to create the "network of networks." High bandwidth, smart networks, low latency – all this will now be possible with 5G. Together with IT security and intelligent and secure cloud solutions, these developments will create the requirements for Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the digital society in general.
One thing is clear for Deutsche Telekom: establishing 5G as a key technology for a connected society must be firmly anchored at both the domestic and European level. This is an integral part of the digital agenda.
The federal government too seems to have recognized the significance of 5G. Talking about the progress of digitization, Alexander Dobrindt, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, recently announced: "Our goal is to invest jointly with the industry 100 billion euros in the expansion of gigabit networks by 2023. By doing so, we intend to finance the development and roll-out of the next-generation mobile communications standard 5G, along with fiber-optic build-out."
As of now, a wide range of pilot projects are being carried out on the various applications of this innovative network technology. This too will once again be highlighted in Ludwigshafen, where the Rhine-Neckar Region will present itself as a model region for digitization at the summit. From the point of view of business and industry, it would be desirable to transform the numerous pilot projects and trials into live operation so that the vision of "connected living for a better life" will continue to become a reality.