The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) on Thursday showed just how important wireless connectivity has become to its survival by handing the opening keynote at this year's CES to Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg.

Following opening statements by CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, Seidenberg took the stage with a message of revolution. With Verizon Wireless having just rolled out its LTE network in 38 markets, covering 100 million POPs, that revolution, Seidenberg hinted, is taking place on his company's network.

Speaking about the younger, tech-savvy generation, Seidenberg said, "Technology is like an extra hard-drive for their brains. ... They're using technology to erase boundaries." Seidenberg said that the next generation of consumers wants to share, connect and learn anywhere, at anytime, on any device.

Verizon believes that faster, smarter pipes are the way to enabling an entire ecosystem of new devices and applications.

"The full-blown mobile broadband we've been predicting for years is now here," proclaimed Lowell McAdam, Verizon's president and COO when invited on stage. "Consumers will benefit from LTE much sooner than anyone expects," McAdam said, noting that next-generation networks could enable such Star Trek-like technologies as holographic gaming and virtual travel.

Seidenberg and McAdam went on to sketch the kind of ecosystem Verizon is creating for its network, including discussions with partners about devices, applications and content.

Mike Cleron, the architect behind Google's tablet-optimized version of Android (Honeycomb), gave a brief demonstration of the platform on Motorola's Xoom tablet, which will arrive on Verizon's network in the near future.

Cleron said that Google worked to rebuild Android from the ground up for Honeycomb. "We spent over a year rethinking everything about Android from the ground up. We didn't want it to just be bigger, we wanted it to be better," Cleron said.

Seidenberg & company talked in terms of what's next and where next-generation networks fit into the lives of the next generation. There was no mistaking the very big role that all the carriers will be playing as they struggle to support all the innovation that comes out of CES this year.