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CTIA: Carrier keynotes steer clear of controversy


The keynote line up was the same at CTIA Enterprise & Applications as it was at CTIA’s spring show, but the atmosphere was definitely much less raucous (CP: Sprint’s Hesse weighs in on AT&T-T-Mobile deal). Rather than subject themselves to the awkward probing of Mad Money’s Jim Cramer (and giving Sprint CEO Dan Hesse a soapbox from which to attack the AT&T-T-Mobile merger), the heads of the top U.S. carriers opted for a more subdued program, each delivering a separate 20 minute keynote on some of the less controversial issues facing the wireless industry.

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CTIA CEO Steve Largent kicked the day off, declaring the now common refrain that industry needs vast quantities of new spectrum. Pointing to new CTIA data that wireless penetration now surpasses 100%, meaning mobile connections now outnumber people, and the dramatic increases in both smartphone penetration and data traffic, Largent enjoined regulators to clear more government and commercial airwaves for mobile broadband use.

llocating more frequencies would accomplish two government goals, Largent said: triggering a mobile broadband revolution while filling government coffers in the midst of a budget crisis. He estimated that spectrum auction proceeds could raise as much as $30 billion for the U.S. Treasury.

“I don’t see many industries that are willing to step up and write a check like that to the government, but we are,” Largent said.

Next came this year’s CTIA chairman Hesse, who while jokingly referencing the controversy of the last season’s merger-dominated CTIA show, quickly launched into one of his favorite topics: the greening of wireless industry. Doffing his chairman’s hat, Hesse praised recent efforts from all of the country’s major operators, ticking off the accolade each had received from sustainable industry organizations. Hesse also took the opportunity to announce Sprint’s latest green initiative. The operator has joined the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Saver programs, committing to reduce its greenhouse admissions across all aspects of its business, from producing sustainable products and reducing network energy consumption to reducing the carbon footprint of its own corporate operations. According to Hesse, Sprint’s new efforts will include the following measures.

· Reducing Sprint’s own greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

· Partnering with device manufacturers and suppliers to measure, report and reduce their emissions.

· Identifying opportunities to reduce emissions associated with customers charging their mobile devices.

· Identifying opportunities for Sprint to help other companies reduce their emissions, particularly through machine-to-machine partnerships.

Following Hesse, AT&T CEO of mobility and consumer Ralph de la Vega tackled the subject of innovation in wireless. While de la Vega highlighted the efforts of AT&T’s three application Foundries, which bring in outside developers and innovators to collaborate directly with AT&T engineers, de la Vega also revealed a new program designed to tap into the talents of the operator’s own employees. Called The Innovation Program, or TIP, the initiative use a venture capital model to encourage and incubate ideas within AT&T, outside of its normal product development channels, and eventually fund and develop ideas it finds exceptional, de la Vega said.

TIP has already resulted in Toggle, a smartphone app AT&T will launch later this year that allows customers to create separate business and personal modes for their phones (CP: AT&T Toggle app looks to combine business and pleasure on the same phone). More than 100,000 employees have submitted ideas for TIP and so far 50 of them have been funded and are under development, de la Vega said.

Verizon Wireless president and CEO Dan Mead delivered the closing keynote, choosing to focus his thesis on collaboration in the wireless industry. While Mead said that the wireless market remains competitive, carriers cooperating with each other as well as hundreds of other innovators from the consumer device, vertical markets and computing industries have resulted in stunning advances in wireless technology and services.

“Cooperation the wireless industry has allowed us to come a very long way in a very short time, Mead said.


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