Wireless Data Innovations: A Big 4 Carrier Roundtable Discussion

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At the CTIA expo in New Orleans this afternoon, the CEOs from Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all gathered together for a roundtable discussion to talk about about wireless data, LTE, and what innovations we’ll be seeing next.

Verizon’s Dan Mead took the stage first, where he talked about his company’s perception of a coming spectrum crunch. By Mead’s estimates, Verizon subscribers will be demanding more wireless data than the company can provide by sometime in 2014.

Dan Hesse from Sprint followed Mead, discussing the need to improve the reputation of carriers in the eyes of consumers. He cited the need for education to help smartphone owners use their phones securely, and talked about Sprint’s role in protecting user privacy. As far as LTE goes, his chief concern seemed to be that the public is still confused about just what constitutes 4G or not.

T-Mobile’s Philipp Humm reiterated some of Verizon’s spectrum concerns, pointing out the need for access to new bands if capacity is to grow alongside demand. On the plus side, rather than just lamenting about that deficiency, Humm talked about taking proactive steps to better manage existing spectrum.

Finally it was AT&T’s turn, and Ralph De La Vega used his time to talk less about smartphones directly and more about their role as part of a broader ecosystem of connected devices. The carrier’s Digital Life project envisions a fully-online “smarthouse”, with your smartphone or tablet giving you the ability to control everything.

With their individual time over, the four CEOs sat down to begin the roundtable, moderated by CNBC’s Jim Cramer. As the intended topic of this get-together regarded innovation, Cramer quickly steered the conversation in that direction. Each carrier has different expectations for what will be big in the year to come. AT&T’s looking to mobile payments, while Sprint came back to the idea of users developing a growing concern for mobile security, putting raw data speed on the back burner. Both Verizon and T-Mobile discussed things in more general terms, looking to increased usage of data as users rely less on voice calls and texts.

Things got a little more interesting when talk turned to spectrum allocation, with Cramer raising the question of whether it’s flat-out fair or not that some carriers have greater spectrum access than others. Of course, no one really wanted to address that directly, but they talked about the need to prove to the government that they’re not just wasting the spectrum they have now, in the hopes to demonstrate that they deserve access to additional resources (Verizon claims it’s doing the best job with efficiency at the moment).

As the discussion drifted into how the carriers advertise against each other, some good points came to light about the sort of 4G confusion Hesse mentioned earlier. All the carriers want to be able to say they’re the best, when in reality only one actually can (if there even exists a clearly superior option), leading them to subtly distort information or just present it in the way most favorable to them. One need look no further than the latest T-Mobile ad to attack AT&T (below), which calls attention to how slow data on its iPhone is while ignoring its new LTE network.

Winding things down, the carriers all discussed their love for social media, which they see as a huge driving force behind smartphone adoption, some surprising affection for Skype, and gave cheers to Apple (T-Mobile notwithstanding) for the sheer amount of business the iPhone has been bringing over the years.

Source: Android Central

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck

Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen’s first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he’s convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he’s not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits

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