What to expect from the GSMA Ministerial Programme 2024

The GSMA Ministerial Programme will once again be a central feature of MWC Barcelona in 2024. Over three days, more than 1800 attendees and 100 speakers will participate in the annual invitation-only event to discuss digital policy, challenges and opportunities for the telecom sector and emerging themes linked to digital connectivity. The agenda will span topics such as 5G capabilities and emerging use cases, regulating artificial intelligence, digital inclusion, the data economy, climate action, and spectrum for 5G expansion.

Hailed as the centre of the policy debate at MWC Barcelona, this unique event is attended by ministers, telecom regulators, data protection authorities, industry CEOs and senior representatives of international organisations. They convene to share knowledge, stimulate debate around current issues, and engage with industry experts on policy and regulatory topics to shape our digital future.

This year, besides the main Ministerial Stage, we are launching a new Focus Stage, allowing attendees to delve deeper into topics of interest and engage with subject matter experts. Here is what to expect from this year’s agenda, taking place from 26 to 28 February.

Day one: Steering the digital economy

The future of telecommunications in an era of rapid technological advancement and shifting geopolitical landscapes calls for robust strategies and a vision for connectivity in the coming years. The convergence of generative AI, 5G, satellite broadband, and cybersecurity implications requires forward-looking policies to foster innovation while ensuring equitable access to technology and decarbonising economies.

The first day of the event will broadly explore a multi-dimensional perspective on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as governments and industry accelerate the change. Leading figures in the digital arena will explore regulatory challenges posed by emerging technologies, such as generative AI. They will also examine the policy implications of the evolving data landscape, including differences in data protection law, new regulatory authorities, AI, children’s data and the ongoing challenge of data localisation rules in a ‘borderless’ digital economy.

The day will conclude with a session highlighting the implications of COP-28 and the mobile industry’s role in climate action and sustainability. We’ll discuss how recent advancements in the sector contribute to environmental goals, focusing on innovation, ecosystem engagement, and public-private collaboration.

Day two: Cross-sector collaboration

The programme’s second day will highlight how mobile connectivity has catalysed industries and governments to ‘rewire’ entrenched operating methods and embrace the digital revolution. Speakers will draw on real-world cases to illustrate how governments can support the digitalisation of entire sectors, how mobile operators have been evolving from infrastructure players to advanced tech companies, and how new forms of cross-sector collaboration are emerging. The day will also discuss how to tackle the investment challenges in delivering high-performance networks and consider how a reset of the current investment framework might be achieved.

The signature “Ask the Regulator” session will draw learnings from innovative models integrating multiple regulators under a unified board. Experts will examine the practicality of such convergence and look for practical approaches to regulation in the converging sectors. 

Spectrum policy will also be covered in depth, with a session discussing the implications of WRC-23 and policies for timely and affordable spectrum access that can deliver a pathway to lowering the usage gap.

Day three: partnerships, partnerships and partnerships

The event’s final day will focus on the role of partnerships and connectivity in achieving development objectives such as digital inclusion and tackling humanitarian crises. We will also address emerging cybersecurity risks and the resilience of systems through effective regulation.

Digital inclusion represents tremendous socio-economic opportunities for achieving digital equality for all. At the same time, with 95% of the world’s population covered by a mobile network and 5.4 billion unique mobile subscribers globally, mobile plays a life-saving role in disseminating early warning alerts.

The final session will discuss the synergy between non-terrestrial network providers (NTNs) and mobile operators, reflecting the growing number of partnerships between mobile and satellite connectivity being announced globally. Regulatory issues surrounding regulatory parity, spectrum acquisition, licensing conditions, and quality of service will be discussed to understand how harmonised future regulatory frameworks can benefit all.

Follow the debate

The Ministerial Programme is an invitation-only event within MWC Barcelona, targeted at senior government and industry leaders. If you cannot attend, you can follow the hashtag #MWC24MP for live updates on X and session summaries on LinkedIn.