Wireless executives from around the world are using CTIA keynotes to discuss America's supposed spectrum crunch, and the speedy broadband future.
ORLANDO, Fla.-CTIA's second day of keynotes focused on both
broadband's spectacular growth, and the equally significant squeeze in spectrum
facing the nation's wireless providers.
"It's possible to just be walking down the street, even on
Park Avenue in New York City, and lose your connectivity," LightSquared CEO
Sanjiv Ahuja told the audience gathered here for his opening keynote. "In the
end of 2009, global data demand exceeded mobile voice usage. This trend shows
absolutely no sign of reversing itself."
CTIA's first day keynote speakers, including FCC chairman
Julius Genachowski and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, spoke to a similar theme. Indeed,
the show-runners seem heroically determined to position the unleashing of more
spectrum as a national priority, one that will help jumpstart a newfound era of
"Current spectrum in the United Sates is severely limited,"
Ahuja said. "The perfect storm of booming demand, an onslaught of new data
services ... has left this industry at an absolutely critical tipping point."
While this translates into some dropped calls and similar
inconveniences now, he added, it could eventually result in a "slower-moving
information highway that could become a very serious traffic jam."
LightSquared has apparently entered into an agreement with
big-box retailer Best Buy for wireless services, but Ahuja did not discuss that
deal in any great detail while onstage. LightSquared's corporate mission is to
sell wireless-network capacity on a wholesale basis to business partners.
Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, took a more
existential angle on the whole wireless industry, with an opening video that
compared the rates of babies being born every minute to that of Twitter and
Referring to those newborns in the opening moments of his
speech, Vestberg said: "They will not accept not having coverage."
Continuing the philosophical bent, he then described
communication as a "basic human need"-with humanity so needy that, by 2015,
there will be some 8 billion mobile subscriptions.
"There will not be that many people on earth in 2015," he
said. "People will have several different devices and several different types
of subscriptions. In this second phase, it is very important to understand the
winners in the first phase may not be the winners in the second phase."
The sum result of all this activity, he added, was the rise
of a "networked society" in which "anything that benefits from being connected
will be connected."
In the meantime, though, CTIA's theme seems to be there are
obstacles to overcome in creating that society.
"If we don't innovate in the private sector and government,"
Genachowski said during the opening day's keynotes, "we risk letting big
opportunities pass us by."
American consumers "know what it means to have a dropped
call or a slow connection or cranky WiFi," he added. But "while American
ingenuity and our appetite fore wireless is infinite, spectrum is not." The
FCC's agenda, in that light, includes not only creating a transparent
marketplace, but also removing obstacles to 4G deployment.