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Stephan Broszio

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The Summit of Digitization

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Why major summits are part of the many small steps on the long road to the gigabit society and 5G.

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Telekom CEO Höttges at the IT Summit 2016


Humans are analog; the future is digital. We can bridge this perceived gap. Millions of smartphone users try to do so every day. But digitization is knocking at the door of every area of our lives, and this global transformation can – and must – be shaped. To do so, we need knowledge and awareness: that's the reason for events such as the 10th National IT Summit, yesterday and today in Saarbrücken. Its motto: "Learning and acting in the digital world". As a builder of networks that is providing a solid foundation for the dreams of a new world, we let our actions speak for us.

Small and beautiful, such as the participation of the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung foundation in the joint "Calliope Mini" project.This minicomputer will teach elementary school pupils the first steps in programming in an age-appropriate way, to give them early insights instead of operating technology blindly. And large and powerful, especially the network of tomorrow – and the day after tomorrow. Giving the highest possible bandwidth to as many customers as possible, as quickly as possible, is fundamental principle of Deutsche Telekom. And that's the foundation for the gigabit society.

Billions of connected devices

In addition to smartphones, tablet PCs and computers, experts are anticipating up to 20 billion other connected devices by 2020: in medicine, sports, fashion and manufacturing; in our kitchens, basements and gardens; in our cars and more. All of these devices will want to communicate. And they need more than just bandwidth. "Faster just isn't enough. The requirements for networking are becoming more diverse," said Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges, in his role as representative of summit platform 1 "Digital Networks and Mobility", at the first forum. Availability, security, latency and flexibility are crucial demands of convergent gigabit infrastructures. The magic word is 5G.

"5G is the key cornerstone"

"5G is the key cornerstone to the gigabit society," emphasized Höttges in the panel discussion with Education Minister Johanna Wanka, Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Infrastructure Minister Alexander Dobrindt and business and union representatives. "5G is a revolutionary step in digitization and we have the opportunity to shape the global standard." Germany and Europe could be technology and innovation leaders in a key future area.

There should be clear priorities: 5G demands business investments in the billions, as well as support from the state. 5G won't be created overnight; it needs to be planned. Thus Telekom welcomes the 5G initiatives by the EU and the German government. Of course regulation has to support the market, not stifle it. More incentives are needed in the EU legal framework. It will be interesting to see what “learning and action” will show here.

Artificial intelligence Made in the USA and Germany

On the subject of "Learning and acting in the digital world": the presence of artificial intelligence (AI) was largely limited to analog representatives.  In a talk with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Deutsche Telekom CEO Höttges emphasized: “There is no excuse for German entrepreneurs, Telekom included, not to use more artificial intelligence.” Customers could profit in various ways. Moderator Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, underlined  that Germany is not asleep at the wheel here. Sundar Pichai stressed that telecommunication infrastructure was utmost important for the digital economy. And he added – diplomatically – that regulation is important, but must be well balanced. The chances of digitization should be usable.

Digital responsibility "#digitalduty"

Complex, rapid, intransparent – digitization also worries many people, however. Deutsche Telekom intends to confront these worries with the "Digital Responsibility" initiative and survey critical experts. Tim Höttges demonstrated the benefits of the controlled use of big data in an announcement at the IT summit. The mobile game Sea Hero Quest, developed in cooperation with scientists, has now been played by 2.5 million people worldwide. And in doing so, they have entrusted dementia researchers with anonymous data on their navigation behavior. The result is a huge amount of data for the world's largest baseline study on dementia research. Concurrently to the summit, researchers from University College London presented the initial results from the study at Neuroscience 2016 in San Diego, the leading expert conference in this area.

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