LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 ASIA PACIFIC, SINGAPORE: The joint head of Axiata Group insisted the widening role of operators in moving beyond deploying next-generation infrastructure to sharing in national moves to boost competitiveness was a doubled-edged sword, with huge upside and risks.

Joint acting CEO Hans Wijayasuriya argued the move to 5G networks can lead to operators becoming more accountable for working with governments to support consumers and enterprises with new digital capabilities, helping give nations a competitive advantage.

As its operating units across the region move from delivering connectivity to providing a range of fintech services and analytics, “we realised we are at the centre of economic development…by making personal communication ubiquitous and empowering businesses”.

On the flipside, he said it’s a huge missed opportunity if operators cannot succeed in making the shift “empowerment inclusive” and preventing a widening digital divide.

“I think we have a very hot knife in our hands.”

Wijayasuriya added Axiata believes network sharing is important for 5G, requiring governments to be involved in ensuring sufficient capacity for the private and public sectors.

He also sees a need for operators to become “talent factories”, as digital skills will increasingly underpin a country’s competitive advantage.

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