WBBA Director General: Creating a Roadmap for Broadband Advocacy

The director general of the recently formed World Broadband Association (WBBA) envisions a critical role for the organization in championing the broadband industry’s interests, mirroring what the GSMA does for its mobile constituency.

Martin Creaner says the WBBA will advocate not only for operators and traditional suppliers, but also for supply-side vertical players, including consumers, the gaming industry and the metaverse. To that end, he said during a recent interview, WBBA will “put in place the membership that covers all the stakeholders in the industry.” He also discussed the organization’s goals of promoting broadband around the world and provided an update on its accomplishments so far.

Creaner was appointed director general at the WBBA’s first Board of Directors meeting on Feb. 26 in Barcelona. The organization was formed last year to provide an open, multilateral platform to “unify broadband industry stakeholders to address and drive forward shared goals of maximizing the social and economic benefits of equality of broadband for all.”

During the February meeting, Li Zhengmao, former CEO of China Telecommunications Corp., was elected Chairman of the Board. The organization also approved its articles of association during the meeting, Creaner said.

“We’re right at our starting blocks at the moment. But during 2023, if you think of the key goals of any organization, first of all [we need to] create a stable organization that’s well governed, that’s fair, that’s well structured, has a good board, experienced people,” he said. “Secondly, can we put in place the membership that covers all the stakeholders in the industry?”

The association fills a gap in advocacy for the broadband cause, he said. “What we are doing at WBBA is trying to create something that is similar to what the GSMA has done for the mobile industry – to help grow an industry to pull together all the various stakeholders. We want to get a broad church of stakeholders into the WBBA exchanging views on what are things that are blocking broadband across the world, what are the characteristics that the demand side needs from broadband.”

Global Reach

Pointing out the global nature of the WBBA, Creaner discussed the importance of getting governmental support and attracting investors around the world. Even at this early stage, he said, the association already has members in five continents.

Of course, broadband priorities and challenges vary by region, Creaner noted. While in developed markets such as Spain and the U.K., the goal is to provide one gig or 10 gigs of broadband to all customers, in developing countries the targets are far more modest.

“In some parts of the world it’s, ‘Can we get the first fiber into the village?’ So we have an ambition to meet the needs of the developing world, and accelerate broadband adoption and rollout into the developing world, as much as accelerate it and improve it in the developed world.”

Collaborative Activities

The WBBA has been in existence for about nine months. During that time, Creaner said the association has embarked on several collaborative activities with members. Those include holding events and producing publications such as whitepapers addressing the status of the broadband industry

The activities, he said, revolve around understanding and previewing the coming generations of broadband service. The organization is working on a generational roadmap that lays out expectations for broadband in terms of the speed, latency, reliability, availability and security of each generation.

He cited three areas in which the association has placed significant focus. One has to do with replicating broadband successes. “We are capturing case studies of excellence in some parts of world so we can propagate those into other parts of the world,” he said. Another area is sustainability. “We’ve also been focusing very strongly on how sustainability has improved from broadband moving from generation to generation.”

Lastly, the WBBA is looking at roadblocks to broadband rollouts, both in developing and developed countries. By better understanding the challenges, the association can refine its advocacy to investors, governments and the boards of member companies, he said. “Advocacy is going to be a key element of the WBBA over the coming years.”

This content is sponsored by The World Broadband Association (WBBA).

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