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Advancing Investment in Infrastructure for the Digital Economy

A New Report From the World Economic Forum, in Collaboration With BCG, Addresses Current Technology, Commercial, and Policy Challenges to Global Digital Infrastructure

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- 04/29/14 -- The World Economic Forum today released a new report that examines the long-term growth of the digital economy and the viability of the infrastructure that supports it.

The report, Delivering Digital Infrastructure: Advancing the Internet Economy, produced in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), focuses on current threats to digital infrastructure -- including fixed- and mobile-Internet infrastructure, telecommunications equipment and devices, and cloud infrastructure -- in the U.S., Europe, and emerging markets.

"The digital economy is growing significantly faster than the economy as a whole and is also having a far-reaching social and political impact," said David Dean, a BCG senior advisor and coauthor of the report. "However, the potential of the digital economy can only be realized if digital infrastructure keeps pace. This will depend on the investment, innovation, and cooperation of many stakeholders."

Delivering Digital Infrastructure is the result of a World Economic Forum cross-industry initiative. A steering committee and working group drawn from leading companies -- including AT&T, Baidu, Bharti Airtel, Huawei, Liberty Global, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Salesforce.com, and Telefonica -- contributed to the analysis of key industry challenges and helped propose recommendations.

The report provides recommendations for increasing investment in digital infrastructure in several regions. U.S. policymakers should encourage such innovations in local markets to heighten competition and investment -- and to help the U.S. remain a world leader in the digital market. In contrast, Europe's "digital health" is in particular need of attention. According to the report, the lack of a single digital market and greater infrastructure investment will make it difficult for the EU to capitalize fully on the benefits of the Internet economy.

Two critical technical issues are examined in the report: spectrum availability for mobile communications and disputes over IP-interconnection agreements that route traffic among the networks that make up the Internet. These agreements have come under increasing pressure as the volume of data traffic, especially video, grows significantly.

The report urges governments to make more spectrum available for mobile uses and all players to take steps to improve spectral efficiency. It also identifies areas of common ground among those on differing sides of the IP-interconnection debate and suggests a path toward resolving these disputes. In addition, the report assesses how policy and regulation can better keep up with the rapid digital advancement across multiple economic sectors.

"A key underlying premise of our work is that communication service providers and content providers face a mutually dependent future," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises. "Digital services depend on infrastructure for delivery, and infrastructure depends on digital services to drive demand for connectivity."

The report also discusses the need for national economies to develop efficient digital-services sectors and the role governments can play in helping to create environments that nurture such development.

"Governments especially need to recognize the economic and social benefits of digital connectivity and services," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and chief executive officer of Telenor Group. "They can help to create environments in which dynamic digital economies can flourish by taking a long-term view and adopting a forward-looking approach to policy and regulation, ensuring incentives for investments."

A copy of the report can be downloaded at www.bcgperspectives.com.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or [email protected].

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries. For more information, please visit bcg.com.

About bcgperspectives.com
Bcgperspectives.com features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management's agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG's extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm's founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content -- including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports -- can be accessed by PC, mobile, iPad, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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