The GSM Association (GSMA) has announced the launch of the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab, funded for the next three years by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through which it aims to support and stimulate innovation in the telecommunications industry with a particular focus on economic and social inclusion.
The GSMA Test Lab, the industry organisation has detailed, will focus on providing three key services: research, innovation projects, and technological assets including web-based test environments. It is to be led by an Advisory Group which includes representatives from enterprise and academia, who will judge applications and provide support through to proof-of-concept and potential commercial launches for products and services deemed viable – with the first results to be delivered to the industry in the first quarter of 2020.
“In launching the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab, we are taking a bold new step to support and stimulate innovation through greater experimentation and a willingness to take risks,” says John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA. “The GSMA Mobile for Development programme has already had a direct impact on improving the lives of 58 million people. The Lab will allow our team of dedicated ‘technopreneurs’ the opportunity to take a hands-on approach to break down the barriers to economic and social inclusion further.
“Today there are challenges of expanding access to financial services, bridging the digital services gap for women and vulnerable user groups, and providing digital identity solutions for the one billion individuals with no form of ID. These challenges drive our activity as we work on the transformative digital innovations of tomorrow.”
“We are proud to be collaborating with the GSMA and funding the Inclusive Tech Lab to strategise, build, and pilot technologies to support the industry with innovations to drive financial inclusion for the poorest,” adds Matt Bohan, senior programme officer for Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “The Lab will enable us to create and explore products, from interoperability platforms to standardised APIs and more, that will help the industry to drive innovation to include poor people at a whole new pace and scale.”
While the GSMA has not yet published details of the projects it will be supporting through the Inclusive Tech Lab, it has confirmed its focus on breaking down barriers to economic and social inclusion. The CrowdCell project, which recently saw the release of the LimeNET CrowdCell software-enabled open-access small cell based on the LimeSDR platform, is one example of a current initiative doing exactly that: bringing the cost of deploying communications infrastructure and edge-computing capabilities down while simultaneously increasing flexibility, making it possible for operators to better support previously under-served customers while also enabling new service provision and experimentation.
More details on the GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab can be found on the official website.