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Openness Is Wireless Market's Future

4/07/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Major wireless carriers stressed their commitment to open networks and open-platform mobile devices during CTIA Wireless 2008, where executives also underscored their desire to accelerate revenue growth by accelerating the speeds of their data networks.

Consumers don't want a "walled garden" approach that limits their choices of wireless-device applications, said Sprint Nextel president CEO Dan Hesse during a keynote address. "The walled-garden company is the company of the past."

For AT&T Mobility, openness means choices in devices, operating systems and applications, president/COO Ralph de la Vega said during a press briefing. "Consumers can freely change devices" on the AT&T network by swapping their SIM card from their existing GSM phone to a model not purchased through AT&T channels, he noted. AT&T offers phones built around six different operating systems, he continued. And as for the emerging low-cost open-platform Android OS, "I believe in it a lot more than I did before," de la Vega said. "I'm positive it will be something we will want [in the AT&T product portfolio]."

Openness, however, isn't the only element critical to future carrier success, executives said. Carrier investments in high-speed data technologies are needed to satisfy consumer demand for a "mobile Internet similar to the PC Internet" and to meet demand for using PC applications on mobile phones, said Arun Sarin, CEO of global carrier Vodafone.

On the way toward delivering desktop-like Internet access to phones, Microsoft unveiled a new Internet Explorer application for Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphones and PDA-phones. The application will enable full-screen viewing of an HTML Web page, panning and zooming of the Web page on a small screen, and support for Web site video streaming in the H.264 and Flash Light formats.

To speed up Internet access, Sprint Nextel announced an aggressive rollout this year of cellular handsets equipped with high-speed CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A technology, which speeds up peak download rates to 3.1 Mbps, with peak uplink data rates increasing to 1.8 Mbps.

In another example of growing industry openness, handset maker HTC announced plans to market an unlocked-GSM phone for the first time direct to retailers. The Touch Dual PDA-phone with HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) will be available through Best Buy's stores and web site at a price to be announced. HTC joined a growing number of companies targeting the unlocked-GSM market, including Clarity and startups Neonode and Velocity Mobile.

For further coverage of HTC and CTIA see p. 54 and visit www.TWICE.com.

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