Kathy Gibson is at Mobile World Congress 2022 – What mobile industry leaders are imagining today will become reality in the future; just as dreams of self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI) a couple of decades ago are coming true today.

These developments will be enabled as we move from simple connectivity to meaningful connectivity, says Mats Granryd, director-general of the GSMA, opening Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona today.

But, while the mobile industry can provide enabling technology, traditional businesses need to embrace the solutions, and governments need to create an enabling environment where technology can be enabled.

Granryd cites the example of the power industry, where mobile technology could be used to help reduce carbon emissions.

These technologies could result in 11 gigatons of carbon savings, about 40% of the total required reduction or the equivalent of 2 700 coal-powered power plants.

“It is a huge opportunity,” he says. “And the mobile industry is prepared and ready to engage to allow those savings.”

5G is key to many future solutions like smart cities, fintech, proptech, agritech and more – and close to 180 mobile operators around the world have already launched 5G services, Granryd says.

Indeed, mobile traffic grew by more than 40% just last year, and there is a wealth of 5G transformation case studies available.

“This is a frontier area of growth with lots of opportunities,” Granyd says. “To make it a reality, we call on goverments for the timely release and assignment of spectrum at affordable prices.”

So far most counties have failed to release 5G in the mm spectrum, which is what’s needed to provide the best connectivity in urban areas.

Granryd points out that mobile services can only be successful if people use them.

Today, just under half of the world’s population – 3,7-billion people – is not connected online. Of these, 450-million don’t have coverage; but 3,2-billion are covered, yet are still not connected.

“There is a coverage gap and a usage gap,” Granryd says. “The good news is that the coverage gap is being reduced. But the usage gap has hardly moved at all.”

He put this down to affordability, poor skills and lack of content.

“For many, mobile is the only way to get online, so we are urging partners to invest at the same level as the mobile industry to reduce the usage gap.”

A lot needs to be done to get the world connected, Granryd says. “But no industry is better prepared than ours.

“The mobile industry is essential for economic recovery, and $600-billion will be invested in mobile capex.”

“More than ever, responsible leadership is the way to innovate for global recovery and unleash the full power of mobile connectivity.”