Interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia in Istanbul
By Wim Sweldens, President of Alcatel-Lucent wireless business.
Second day at WEF and we were in full swing. Yesterday I attended the session with the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The main item on Erdogan’s agenda was Turkey’s pursuit to join the European Union. He said that Turkey has implemented a range of economic, political and social reforms in an effort to meet EU requirements. The problems have been in the implementation of the new laws: ”This is a change of mentality. It is not something that happens overnight.” While he acknowledged that popular support for EU accession has fallen sharply, Erdogan insisted that “our people want to see Turkey as a free and prosperous partner of the free world. In addition, Turkey’s joining would help the EU address key problems such as the continent’s population deficit and its energy security.
Speaking of energy, saving energy in telecom networks was again a hot topic. I spoke with Turkish CNBC and talked about how we are using initiatives like GreenTouch and technologies like lightRadio to dramatically reduce energy consumption as well as visual pollution.
Afterwards I met with each of the three big mobile operators in Turkey. It is clear that Turkey is in the middle of a big 3G expansion and that 4G is not immediately around the corner. I make the point that globally LTE is moving faster than anyone had predicted, driven by both end-user demand, new devices, new video services and operator savings. So better be prepared. We also discussed the new and surprising court ruling last week banning big towers in city centers in Turkey. Everyone is scratching their head on how to do this and it became clear in the conversations that small cells and metro cells have to be part of the solution. Our innovations on how to cost-effectively install and deploy metro cells using the existing fixed infrastructure got quite some attention.
At the end of the day I had a bit of time to visit Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Only one word to describe them: amazing. What a testimony to culture, history, and art. Truly overwhelming once you are inside. They also make for a beautiful skyline as the sunsets. And no we don’t want to add a cell tower to that…