LAS VEGAS – CTIA kicked off its annual spring trade show Wednesday with a series of three keynotes from industry executives who emphasized continued growth through innovation.
The event began on a somber note, as CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent asked for a moment of silence in memoriam of Mark Desautels, who died Monday of a heart attack. Desautels was head of the Wireless Internet Caucus (WIC) and a key member of the CTIA team.
Largent segued from the moment of silence to some uplifting numbers from the semi-annual CTIA survey. Largent cited 270 million wireless subscribers in the United States and $148 billion in total wireless revenues.
Robert Dotson, president and CEO for T-Mobile and current chairman of CTIA, took the stage with a kind of pep talk, stressing the need for innovation and growth even in the face of a depressing macroeconomic environment.
Dotson called for reduced fragmentation across the industry and stressed that innovation requires deeply integrative relationships between developers, carriers and access to capital. He also said that HSPA+ and Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be the way forward for 4G networks, a sentiment that was echoed throughout the presentation.
Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, was second up. No surprise, Seidenberg continued with the idea of innovation and growth through next-generation networks. Verizon plans to roll out LTE in 30 markets by 2010.
Seidenberg highlighted Verizon’s open network program as a way of expanding the wireless marketplace and reducing fragmentation. Seidenberg said that Verizon certified its first device on its open network in July 2008 and has since certified a total of 36 devices, many of which are M2M.
Another concern Seidenberg stressed was a reduction of government taxation and regulations, citing five states that currently implement wireless taxation in excess of 15 percent. He also promoted the idea of assigning the D-Block spectrum directly to first responders.
Last, and definitely not least, Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM, took the stage on the heels of a flashy video presentation spotlighting BlackBerry functionality.
As expected, Lazaridis elaborated on the opening of the BlackBerry App World. He began by noting that it is the tenth anniversary of the BlackBerry’s introduction to the United States.
Ever an innovator amongst innovators, RIM announced less innovative advances for its line of BlackBerry products and more an impressive game of catch-up with rival Apple.
Complete with an endorsement from Bono and The Edge of U2, which marks a branding partnership for the smartphone maker, the new BlackBerry App World is bound to offer BlackBerry users a more media-rich experience. The true test will come as users experiment with the new store and assess its interface and ease of use.
As is always the case, the keynotes can only offer the outlines of the three-day discussion about to take place amongst the wireless industry. Judging by what the industry heard today, you can be sure that you’ll hear plenty this week about LTE, mobile application development and, of course, money.