A girl jumps to pose for a photo outside the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 28, 2015. The 2015 Mobile World Congress, where participants can attend conferences and discover cutting-edge products and technologies, is the world's biggest mobile fair and will be held from March 2 to 5 in Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

Plans to bring together passwords and authentication for internet services on to a single platform are being developed by global telecoms groups, as they look to cement the mobile phone as the centre of digital life.

More than 16 telecoms groups, including France’s Orange, Telenor of Norway and the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat, have signed up to “mobile connect”. This is a plan being developed by the GSMA, the trade organisation for the global telecoms industry, to provide users with a digital identity tied to their mobile phone.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, chief executive of Telenor, said that the mobile phone would be able to provide a single, secure sign-in for digital services in future, which would mean the end of multiple passwords for apps and internet services such as banking. He added that more than 1bn users could be connected to the web via mobile devices by the end of next year.

So-called mobile identity is one of several projects being developed in the industry to reinforce the position of network operators, which have already suffered an erosion of their traditional communications businesses by the rise of large US technology groups such as Facebook and Google.

At the Barcelona event, the world's largest telecoms groups also revealed advanced plans to create a digital SIM card that will mean the end of the small squares of plastic that are commonly needed to provide connectivity. A similar technology has already been launched by Apple but has not been supported by many network carriers.

Telecoms groups are also using the show to demonstrate how they plan to take control of internet services for customers through their cloud-based platforms. This would mean, for example, that traditional set-top TV boxes would be replaced by cloud TV services, provided by groups such as Deutsche Telekom over their high speed fibre and mobile networks.

Such projects reflect the desire among mobile network operators to reinforce their importance to customers, which are increasingly turning to internet groups to supply key services such as communications and TV.

Get alerts on Mobile World Congress when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article