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CTIA 2010: Everyone's in a Good Mood

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When I hopped in a cab Tuesday morning at CTIA Wireless, I asked the driver (as I usually do) how business was going.  She said “Everyone’s in a good mood.  And that hasn’t been true for a couple years.”  I took that as a truly positive economic indicator – one that was reinforced at the show.  I can’t say that audience levels were back at pre-depression highs, but the business was brisk and the atmosphere was definitely positive.

The keynotes were delivered by a stellar lineup of CEOs, along with our own CTO Padmasree Warrior.  Every presentation highlighted the tremendous growth projected for the Mobile Internet, and most referenced the Cisco VNI to underscore the trend.  Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, was a standout.  He said we’re in the midst of a revolution that will change society, and clearly articulated what is needed to ensure that carriers in the US and worldwide can embrace and manage the growth:

1) Increased spectrum, citing the new US National Broadband Plan as a positive step
2) Increased network efficiency as we move from HSPA+ to LTE
3) Taking advantage of technologies such as WiFi & femto for seamless connectivity to the best available network
4) Improved device and application efficiencies.

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Of course there were exciting product and service announcements as well.  The standouts were Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G – a 4G smartphone that takes advantage of Sprint’s WiMAX network (I like the fact that is has two cameras for social networking), the Samsung Galaxy S (my winner for best quote of the show: “In the smart phone race, the gun has been fired, and the Galaxy S is already at the finish line.” JK Shin, President Samsung), and AT&T’s announcement of the national rollout for their 3G MicroCell service.

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Both Telefonica Chairman Iñaki Urdangarín and Trilogy Board Chairman John Stanton reminded us that wireless networks can not only improve lives through health and education services, but actually help save lives and rebuild countries.  Mr. Urdangarín talked about several social programs that Telefonica supports, including Educared and Proniño.  Mr. Stanton told the compelling story of how the Voila network was used to help the rescue effort immediately following the earthquake in Haiti, and how it continues to be used to help rebuild the country.  Did you text funds to the Red Cross for Haiti?  He called this impulse philanthropy – a powerful fundraising tool that raised over $30 million for the relief effort.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Padma Warriors keynote.  Padma wove this year’s show theme – the Mobile Life – into an exciting demo that showed what’s possible today as consumers move from the shopping mall to the train to home with true mobility.  She gave us another sneak peek at Consumer Home TelePresence (first introduced at CES), as a WebEx meeting was moved from the Mobile phone, to a home phone, to a high definition Cisco TelePresence screen.

This was the 25th Anniversary of the CTIA Wireless show.  I give the show an E for Energy, Enthusiasm, and Excitement.  I left Vegas in a good mood.

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