North American Market an Industry Priority

GSMA North America represents mobile network operators in the United States, Canada, Greenland and Caribbean, and is focused on the priorities of the industry in the region. We accordingly pursue a range of initiatives geared towards those ends. Our newly refreshed website is a reflection of the mobile industry’s growing importance in the region, and a signpost to greater activity over the next 12 months.

The Future Networks Programme for instance pursues the best means of enabling operators in North America to deploy 5G and Rich Communications Services as cost -effectively as possible.  We do this by helping to boost population coverage of high-speed broadband, reduce the capital intensity required for the rollout of 5G, and seeking new ways of unlocking value from mobile networks. Chief among these is the present move of operators from providers of connectivity as a utility to provision and support of proprietary services, as the industry comes to present more holistic, end-to-end offerings to the digital marketplace.  Crucial to the success of that digital economy on which the mobile industry will focus intensively over the coming years is effective digital identity. We are therefore delighted to have assisted the four largest operators in the United States – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon – in their agreement to collaborate on a Mobile Authentication Taskforce, to ensure that operator identity solutions are fully aligned with Mobile Connect, the pan-industry API for digital identity, and interoperable with one another.

North America is leading the fight against device theft through the GSMA Device Check. Device Check allows operators, retailers and recyclers to discourage theft through easy identification of stolen devices, by comparing their unique IMEI number against a global database of stolen devices. The Big Four network operators in the United States, therefore – who between them manage nearly 320 million connections – all now report missing device data to Device Check to stem this flow. So, too, do the largest three operators in Canada.  Best Buy, the largest tech retailer in North America, now uses the database as standard to ensure the legitimacy of the devices sold in its 1,400 stores, and the 12,000,000 devices recycled at HYLA each year are now routinely checked in this way.  Prepaid devices too are subject to crime, and correspondingly subject to our attention. Every year, more than 4 million prepaid mobile devices in the United States are stolen in bulk by criminal gangs, to be unlocked fraudulently and then exported. The economic burden shouldered by operators and their customers as a result of this practice is estimated at more than $900 million per year. The GSMA’s Prepaid Device Trafficking initiative aims to tackle these trafficking activities, and is already returning some gratifying indicators of success.

It has become clearer than ever recently that work must be stepped up to address the gender imbalance in the tech world, and there is widespread agreement now that the sector should think hard about how to bring more women into technical professions. Underutilising half the human race serves no one, least of all those whose potential goes unrealised.  2018 therefore saw introduction by GSMA North America of Women4Tech, a forum to promote networking and discussion with female executives in the telecommunications industry. Also new this year is Tech4Girls, our series of educational workshops for girls, aimed at bringing the next generation of young female talent into the industry. These workshops are designed to equip that enormous budding potential with the fundamental knowledge they need to grasp the place mobile technology occupies in society, the skillset required to play a part and the mentality required to make a success of it.