Industry Execs Debate Key Wireless Issues - Twice

Industry Execs Debate Key Wireless Issues

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CTIA 2013 Las Vegas — Executives in the wireless industry and other industries debated issues of privacy, smartphone data security, distracted driving and the changing employer-employee relationships resulting from the growth of wireless data, during a CTIA keynote panel, here, Tuesday.

The panel praised the potential for new business opportunities enabled by wireless data. But privacy is a growing issue with many consumers as mobile phone apps and telematics systems collect information on user locations and habits to serve up promotional offers, perform remote vehicle diagnostics, and push content and services to vehicles and to consumers’ phones, the executives contended.

The bring-your-own device (BYOD) trend among enterprises is creating issues over who owns data on a personal phone used for business and an enterprise’s rights to monitor personal devices, added Allison Cerra, global marketing and communications VP at infrastructure supplier Alcatel-Lucent.

Car infotainment systems that access apps stored on smartphones and tablets are challenging car makers to better control the information that the apps serve up to in-dash screens, said Mary Chan, president of the global connected consumer at General Motors. “We’re working with app developers to determine what is an appropriate amount of information” to deliver to vehicles, she said. GM worked with Apple, for example, to integrate an iPhone’s Siri voice control and response technology with integrated hands-free Bluetooth in such a way as to present only appropriate information to minimize driver distraction, she said.

Automakers must also find ways to prevent vehicle data from transferring from one owner to subsequent owners, Chan noted.

Although privacy is less of an issue with younger consumers, even most older consumers are very or somewhat comfortable in sharing location and other information if they get free services in return, Cerra pointed out. Many consumers are preference-seekers who want retailers to “know them” some of the time but not all of the time, she noted.

Chan agreed, contending consumers will willingly opt to share information in return for services such as getting pushed alerts that it’s almost time to replace a car battery or perform other vehicle maintenance. Such services incentivize people to share information, she said.

Target executive VP/chief information officer Beth Jacob pointed to the potential for pushing information to shoppers’ phones when they are in store to, for example, present information on special in-store offers or list the in-stock food items that are gluten-free.

In such cases, wireless is capable of sending data to consumers that’s relevant in the context of the location they’re in, said Peggy Johnson, executive VP and global market development president at Qualcomm Technologies.

 As for mobile-device security, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Adobe’s senior VP and chief information officer, said the wireless industry is probably five to six years away from bringing desktop and workstation security to mobile devices. Emerging security threats are “scary,” particularly in enterprises, she said.

In other comments GM’s Chan said she wants Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) technology to proliferate in carrier networks so OnStar employees can simultaneously talk to a car’s driver and deliver data.

Qualcomm’s Johnson said current wireless networks in 10 years will carry 1,000 times the data they do now and that “it will be tough” to keep up with demand despite the addition of new spectrum and new technologies such as LTE-Broadcast, small cells and the like.

And Target’s Jacob said the retailer has implemented a digital savings program in which consumers can pick from hundreds of offers, share them with Facebook friends, and redeem the offers in store by scanning their phone.

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