Tech Leaders Cheer Wireless in CTIA Kickoff

LAS VEGAS — The CTIA Wireless conference kicked off in grand fashion today,
with several industry leaders celebrating the current benefits of wireless
technologies with any eye toward the future.


Of the handful of keynote speakers to take the stage today, Glenn Britt’s
presence probably stood out the most. Why would the Chairman and CEO of
cable giant Time Warner Cable (TWC) want to speak at a convention of wireless
buffs?


He wasted little time in answering.


“The consumer is the reason cable is focused on wireless,” Britt told a
packed audience at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “I could have said we
are interested in wireless because of convergence in content. Both of those
words are overused and I think they missed the point.”


“We are in the business of using technology to meet consumer needs.” He said
TWC is looking to match technological innovation with consumers’
needs.


Britt went on to reiterate the maxim that “content is king” and that
consumers are looking to receive cable programming on-demand through their
wireless smart phones and other devices such as Blackberry wireless handsets
and handheld computers.


Moreover, consumers are increasingly sharing content via wireless gadgets,
including photos and other information. The sharing requires distribution
companies, which is where Time Warner comes in, he said.


The CEO said TWC, along with Sprint Nextel, are working on ways to
program a digital video recorder from a mobile phone and access programming
that’s recorded on the DVR on a mobile device. Over time, he said users will
be able to access clips of content from the DVR via the wireless gadget.


TWC’s future goal is to offer a communications and
entertainment wireless device that works in and out of homes and link video,
data and phone platforms to Sprint Nextel.


While Britt talked about Internet and cable convergence for mobile devices,
NTT DoCoMo President and CEO Masao Nakamura discussed his company’s current
and future wireless achievements.


Nakamura, whose company has 90 million wireless subscribers in Japan, said
more than 10 million of them are using NTT DoCoMo’s phones as virtual
wallets.


He said some DoCoMo customers in Japan have wireless phones fitted with an infrared
chip.


This chip allows users to run the phone across a scanner that allows them to pay for groceries and commuter tickets for subways. It also permits them to unlock the doors to their homes.


Looking forward, Nakamura said DoCoMo is currently making prototypes for high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA).


HSDPA is high-speed packet transmission technology that experts believe will
offer a maximum downlink speed of about 14 megabits per second. The
prototype handsets have maximum speeds of 3.6Mbps, 10 times faster than
current 3G Docomo handsets.


While DoCoMo continues to impress with its wireless
innovations, wireless pioneer and Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila said in his portion of the keynote said that despite the rising tide of new mobile applications for bringing TV, e-mail and search to the small screen, voice remains the main killer application for cell phones.


Ollila also said that wireless is beginning to penetrate even more markets, particularly in India.


Karim Khoja, CEO of Roshan, a telecom development company in Afghanistan,
vouched for this in his presentation, noting that wireless subscriptions are booming in
Afghanistan among those who have the financial means.


Why wireless in Afghanistan? Khoja said a major reason is that the abundance of land mines in the country make
installing fiber for broadband a prohibitive task.

The keynote also included a question and answer session
between CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin
about the government’s support for wireless.


Martin acknowledged the
importance of allowing wireless technologies to blossom.

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