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Carriers to CTIA audience: Openness could worsen user experience

SAN FRANCISCO -- The wireless space has never gone through as much change and innovation as it has in the last year and more openness will further drive the industry, just as long as it's done right.

Keynote executives at CTIA Wireless' IT and Entertainment talked about the new and improved wireless industry, how it works and how it depends on customers.

"Wireless is always changing and evolving because consumers demand it," said Steve Largent president/CEO of CTIA -- The Wireless Association. "Wireless companies have to be ready for whatever America wants next."

Mr. Largent also talked about all the recent economic turmoil and the fact that the wireless industry is doing well regardless.

In fact, the industry made a total of $14.8 billion in data revenue in just the first six months of 2008.

It's not just about voice anymore," Mr. Largent said. "People are using their phones to access the Internet, videos, texts, email and the Web."

According to market researcher, ComScore, more than 28 percent of wireless subscribers have a 3G phone.

Also, text messaging is not just a fad anymore, as 75 billion text messages are sent every month. Wireless user on the street corner fitting in text

"Wireless and data will experience change with more openness," said Dan Hesse CEO of Sprint Nextel Corp. "Open to the consumer means no restrictions on what they get access to on their phones."

The problem with more openness is that if it isn't optimized right, the user experience worsens.

From a developers perspective open means that it is easy to put applications on any network.

"Being open means unleashing innovation for users," said Robert Dotson, CTIA vice chairman and president/CEO of T-Mobile USA. "We are in one of the most interesting times in this industry, as most of the money to be made is coming from services other than voice."

Transparency of networks will allow innovations to explode.

"Control and stewardship is necessary," said Lowell McAdam, CTIA Chairman and president/CEO of Verizon Wireless. "Openness should go hand in hand with quality experience and security and privacy of the consumer."

He also said the openness will happen soon enough and that it will spark the development of applications, which will drive the industry forward.

"If you don't optimize and make sure that the networks integrate properly, you will ruin the customer experience," Mr. Dotson said. "You have to safeguard the security and trust of your consumers though."

There is huge opportunity with open networks.

"It will have a big effect on people's everyday lives and the way they live," Mr. McAdam said.
"A big transition will go on and about 20 percent will adopt openness right away and its up to up to carriers to facilitate that experience."