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Börje Ekholm to G7/B7: show the world what digitalization can achieve

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Ericsson President and CEO, Börje Ekholm, has urged the Group of Seven (G7) advanced global economies to lead the way in showing what connectivity-driven digitalization can achieve, while working to ensure likeminded partners, including emerging regions, also benefit.

May 18, 2024
Börje Ekholm addresses the Unlocking the Opportunities: Leveraging AI and Investing in Talents panel session at the May 17 2024 B7 Summit in Rome.
Börje Ekholm addresses the Unlocking the Opportunities: Leveraging AI and Investing in Talents panel session at the May 17, 2024 B7 Summit in Rome.

Ekholm highlighted the catalyzing role of trusted advanced mobile connectivity during a May 17 meeting with the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, in Rome.

Representing the Confederation of European Business - known as BusinessEurope - he was part of a delegation that met Prime Minister Meloni in her role as President of the G7, comprising seven of the most advanced national economies in the world, and the European Union.

The meeting followed the 2024 summit of the B7 - the business wing of the G7 - held elsewhere in Rome on May 17, which Ekholm also addressed.

Ekholm says: “We thanked Prime Minister Meloni, in her role as President of the Council of Ministers, for the increasing focus that the G7 is giving to the need for secure and trusted advanced connectivity for all.”

Ekholm says he expressed the ICT industry’s desire to see G7 members focus even more on secure and trusted advanced connectivity and lead the world in showing the potential of digital transformation as a global engine of sustainable economic growth.

He said this means working with likeminded partners to make secure and trusted advanced connectivity a reality in relevant markets, including emerging economies.

He adds: “We also highlighted how connectivity has changed from being an enabler of life-enhancing and business-transforming services, to becoming a digital infrastructure prerequisite for national and regional development. Business investment decisions will increasingly depend on whether high-speed, high-capacity, safe and sustainable digital infrastructure is in place to help it to succeed. The winners will be the countries and regions that act.”

B7 2024 Summit

Prior to meeting Prime Minister Meloni, Ekholm addressed the B7 2024 Summit during a panel discussion called Unlocking the Opportunities: Leveraging AI and Investing in Talents.

Asked how mobile connectivity contributes to AI, he said enterprise and industry AI use cases need advanced mobile connectivity, alongside storage and compute. Therefore, he said, fully programmable 5G Standalone network deployment at scale is critical to AI adoption.

Ekholm pointed to China, where he said recognition of advanced mobile connectivity abilities resulted in large-scale support and investment.

“China now has 20,000 enterprise 5G networks compared to hundreds in Europe and the U.S,” he said. “This will allow Chinese companies to be much more efficient. AI needs connectivity in general, and mobile connectivity in particular, to reach its full potential.”

Ekholm was also asked how the G7 could contribute to the development and deployment of 6G.

He said that it is important to first get things right with 5G as 6G will be an evolution from 5G Standalone. He went on to stress how critical it is that G7 countries review and align on 6G research, spectrum and standardization policies, and for regulatory arms to support competitiveness by ensuring communications service providers can make money in order to invest.  

“Having operators not making money is very risky for geopolitical competitiveness,” he said. “I believe we need to arrive at a shared vision together with likeminded governments, operators and vendors.”

European competitiveness

Ekholm also spoke with Adolfo Urso, Italy’s Minister for Enterprise and Made in Italy, in a meeting unconnected to the G7 or B7.

European competitiveness topped the agenda, similar to the discussions with six national European leaders - the five Nordic prime ministers and German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz - at Ericsson’s Group Headquarters in Stockholm earlier this week.

As with the G7, the B7 comprises the USA, Germany, Japan, UK, France, Canada and Italy, as well as the EU as a non-enumerated member. The B7 includes the business and industrial federations of the G7.

The 2024 G7 Leaders’ Summit will be held in Apulia, Italy, from June 13-15.