AT&T CEO and president Randall Stephenson opened the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference with a keynote speech in which he insisted that the United States led the world in its wireless innovation, and detailed a native iPhone application for enterprise users. While AT&T has built much of its market-share in the smartphone arena with Apple's iPhone, the carrier has been introducing other devices into its lineup, including ones powered by Google Android and, soon, Windows Phone 7 Series. AT&T will also offer the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus on its network.
LAS VEGAS-AT&T CEO and president Randall Stephenson
suggested during the opening keynote at the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference that the
United States continued to lead the world in wireless innovation, but that its
lead could be threatened in years ahead. In addition, Stephenson also detailed
the new AT&T WorkBench for iPhone, an application that allows enterprise
applications to be controlled via the iPhone with "reliability and security."
"The U.S. is leading the world here, but we've seen America
lose its lead in fields we once dominated," Stephenson said, taking the stage
at the Las Vegas Convention Center at the start of the three-day event, which
brings together a variety of carriers, mobile hardware manufacturers, and
mobile application designers. "The challenge in the years ahead is to...extend
our leadership. Momentum is on our side. Opportunities are incredibly large. We
can't afford to mess this up at this stage."
One of the keys to the United States maintaining its lead
will be spectrum. "Limited spectrum means limited bandwidth and limited
growth," Stephenson said. "Spectrum is the backbone for this industry; it is
crucial for delivering innovation and productivity."
The FCC recently announced a new spectrum strategy that will
include auctioning off a 700-megahertz portion of the airwaves at some point
this summer. Companies such as AT&T have a substantial stake in the FCC's
future actions, which are generating a considerable undercurrent of discussion
at CTIA. Implicit in Stephenson's keynote address was a viewpoint that less
regulation on the government's part would translate into necessary innovation
and productivity in future years.
Stephenson devoted a portion of his speech to AT&T
WorkBench for iPhone, which he said would allow "Web enterprise applications to
be controlled with reliability and security, making it a powerful tool for
business productivity." The product, he added, had recently emerged from
AT&T's research labs.
AT&T WorkBench for iPhone allows for role-based
deployment of Web applications, enhanced IT controls in areas such as policy
management and mobile VPN, certificate-based authentication using SCEP (Simple
Certificate Enrollment Protocol), and automatically updates data and
applications when a device is reconnected to the network.
The application is available for free from Apple's App
Although AT&T has built much of its smartphone presence
on Apple's iPhone, the company has been expanding its product portfolio in new
directions. Earlier in March, the
carrier introduced the Motorola Backflip, a device running Google Android 1.5
or cupcake, onto its network; five Android phones are eventually planned for
rollout. AT&T executives have also indicated that two smartphones running
the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system will make their debut on
the network at an unannounced future date, and
the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus are both expected to arrive in the coming
Adding to this crowded lineup, Google
recently introduced a new version of the Nexus One is compatible with
AT&T's 3G network in the United States and Rogers Wireless in Canada.
The previous unlocked version of the device was only capable of accessing
AT&T's 2G, or EDGE, network. While the expansion of the Nexus One onto a
new network might have more relevance to the increasingly brutal competition
between Google and Apple, the increased number of devices on its network
suggests that AT&T has an eye towards the iPhone no longer being their
exclusive device, and thus a clear-cut sales advantage, after a certain point.
However, the popularity of the iPhone has translated into
something of an issue for AT&T, with users complaining that the network has
been unable to support their thirst for bandwidth. AT&T has countered those
complaints by insisting they've been heavily investing in their network
infrastructure, but Stephenson also claimed at the Morgan Stanley Technology,
Media &Telecom Conference on March 2 that the carrier was considering a
tiered pricing structure for data-intensive users.
"For the industry, we'll progressively move toward more of
what I call variable pricing so the heavy consumers will pay more than the
lower consumers," Stephenson told the audience.
In San Francisco and New York, cities with a large number of
iPhone users, AT&T has reportedly been at work on improving its 3G Voice
Composite Quality Index, claiming that it improved that metric by 21 percent in
San Francisco for the fourth quarter of 2009. AT&T also claims to have
expanded its 3G coverage area by 4,100 sites, or 360 cities, and lowered its 3G
dropped call rate from 1.16 percent in Dec. 2008 to 0.91 in December 2009.
In January, AT&T announced during a quarterly earnings
call that it had 85.1 million subscribers. The
company saw modest declines in revenues in 2009
, thanks to the global
In addition to Stephenson, other speakers at CTIA include
J.K. Shin, president of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business, Sprint CEO
Dan Hesse, and Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco. On March 25, a panel discussion
on mobile technology's effect on business, media and the economy is expected to
include "Avatar" director James Cameron, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, CNBC reporter
Michelle Caruso-Cabera, and U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra.