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Live from CTIA 2010's day two keynote with Dan Hesse

Chris Ziegler
March 24, 2010

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Hot off the killer HTC EVO 4G announcement yesterday, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse is helping to lead up CTIA's day two keynote session today alongside Clearwire boss William Morrow, Deutsche Telekom chief René Obermann, and more. So sit down, pour yourself a hot cup of something, and enjoy -- this should be a good one!

11:08AM Well, this keynote's running over, we're late for meetings, and we've seen enough video conferencing for one day -- that's a wrap, folks!

11:05AM Video conferencing in the home. Back to the Future at last!

11:03AM Now we're seeing a WebEx demo on an iPhone. The guy on the far end of the call complains that he can't see the dude on stage, then it's explained that the iPhone doesn't have a front-facing camera but Cisco's confident that more devices will have them in the future. Considering that they'd had front-facing cameras for years before manufacturers started to give up, it'll be interesting to see if that actually happens.

11:00AM Now they're talking about 802.11u, which allows seamless authentication handoff between cell and WiFi networks.

10:59AM And augmented reality, too, with WiFi-augmented indoor positioning, so you can track down the coffee shop to get your discount.

10:58AM The example we're being given is being stuck in a train terminal during a train delay. Cisco's doing trials of digital signage interaction that would let you receive specials, ads, and so-on as you approach stores, so you can get a drink discount as you're killing time in the terminal.

10:57AM First we're seeing ticketless travel on an iPhone.

10:56AM Demo time!

10:52AM They're also estimating there will be 140 connected devices per person on Earth in 2013, up from 5 today. Spectrum crunch, indeed!

10:49AM Whoa - they're estimating that 91 percent of *all* internet traffic in 2013 will be video. No wonder Hesse talked about it so much.

10:48AM Warrior's focus seems to be on machine-to-machine -- connecting everything to everything. Certainly bodes well for Cisco's core business, we're sure!

10:45AM "The mobile device and the internet are fast converging."

10:45AM Cisco's Padmasree Warrior is taking the stage.

10:44AM More talk about federal regulation on wireless. In brief: the CTIA doesn't like it.

10:42AM Steve's back on stage.

10:41AM He's wrapping up: "more spectrum is needed urgently... a light-handed regulatory approach is best."

10:41AM Talking about the growth of Android, and naturally taking the opportunity to pimp the fact that T-Mobile USA had the first Android-powered phone anywhere... one device in 2008 with 50 apps, five T-Mobile devices today with 20,000 apps.

10:38AM "Without quality networks, it is impossible to do e-commerce."

10:38AM Now he's talking about the importance of partnerships with what looks like a hundred different companies on the slide. This is close to a comment Morrow made earlier in the keynote session -- partnerships are needed to keep network investment going.

10:35AM His only concern? Speed. He wants spectrum to be opened up as quickly as possible, talking about a German auction next month that'll open up an additional 360MHz.

10:34AM He's stoked about the National Broadband Plan. Sounds like this is one topic that every carrier can get behind.

10:33AM He's talking about how the US has enjoyed significantly higher wireless investment than Europe, which he's equating to less government regulation here.

10:31AM "We believe this will be the first truly global standard in the mobile world."

10:30AM "In the long run, of course, we will upgrade to LTE as we have successfully trialed in Europe."

10:30AM Talking about HSPA+'s upgrade path, "We believe 3G is far from being over."

10:30AM Now he's talking up T-Mobile USA, touting that they've nearly caught up to their peers for 3G penetration despite being "late to the game" and with significantly higher "real-world throughput" on HSPA+ than even WiMAX.

10:28AM Referring to faster networks: "Imagine how data consumption would look if it actually works!"

10:27AM He says that smartphone penetration is higher in the US than in Europe, but "the iPhone in Europe triggers even higher data usage" than other smartphones.

10:26AM They're anticipating 40-50GB of data usage per customer per month by the middle of this decade.

10:25AM "I drive a BMW 5 Series with very low CO2 emission... Germans make very good cars." Laughs from the audience... this dude's a jokester!

10:24AM "Personalization... I'm pretty sure a blanket approach will no longer do."

10:23AM "We have to become smart, big pipes, not dumb, big pipes." He's talking about how enormous app growth requires network efficiency to continue.

10:22AM He's relaying a story about his daughter talking to her friend in the UK over "I don't dare to mention it... it's kind of embarrassing for me... Skype."

10:20AM "Imagine nearly everything... machine to machine, imagine millions of cars all connected."

10:19AM "Often I hear that carriers should become dumb, big pipes... [but] we have to support all the services customers use, so that's not exactly what a dumb, big pipe does."

10:18AM "We should finally think in customers' minds. That was not easy in the early years of growth."

10:18AM "You may recall a few years ago it was all about subscriber growth... now it's all about loyalty."

10:17AM He wants to talk about some key differences between American and European mobile networks. Data growth rate is way, way higher in the US, and non-voice ARPU is growing at a much higher rate.

10:16AM "We have to find the right ways to evolve this new wireless ecosystem."

10:16AM "I had to leave all my cash at home... Germans are prudent."

10:15AM Ooh, Rene's never been to Vegas before! Sounds like we've got to show him the town.

10:15AM "I'm afraid many of those numbers you just saw in that video may already be outdated, because they're a few weeks old, and I think my kids may have changed them by 10 percent."

10:13AM We've got a Matrix-esque video playing with facts. Lots of facts. Facts!

10:12AM And Morrow's off the stage... next is Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann.

10:11AM How fast they continue to grow depends on how many more investors they bring in, and Morrow says they have plenty of people "knocking on their door" to get involved.

10:10AM "High speed, high capacity, low cost... [customers] just want an all-IP network."

10:10AM "What's next for Clearwire in the next few years?"

10:10AM "We're all going to be using the same technology to advance the industry."

10:09AM He's more concerned about global roaming capability -- and yeah, we'd say that's a pretty big concern. Good to see that he's focused on that. He's talking to other carriers around the world to make sure they're on the same page.

10:08AM "We'll be ready to offer LTE" once (and if) the technology advances beyond what WiMAX can offer.

10:07AM "WiMAX is going to be around for a long, long time. 80 percent of WiMAX and LTE overlap... now whether or not we should endorse it is another issue that we'll come back to. Because we're technology-agnostic, we're going to provide customers just what they want. Either one of these technologies can deliver [that]."

10:06AM "Most of my gray hair comes from the technology. Most people seem to think that it's going to be one or the other."

10:06AM Ooh, talking WiMAX versus LTE now. "What's your perspective on this potential conflict?"

10:06AM "Stand by... we're only scratching the surface."

10:05AM Talking about voice: "we know voice is going to continue, and once we have a national footprint, you're going to see VoIP applications."

10:04AM Bottom line from Morrow's answer: they need to look at mobile broadband the same way as traditional broadband. High usage, lots of devices. Carriers need to be comfortable with that and ready for it.

10:01AM "Whether it's GameStations, iTouches, iPhones... everything's getting connected to WiFi. If we're going to let mobile broadband take its lead, we need to think in the same way." Is the GameStation manufactured by Sany, by chance?

10:00AM Steve's asking about 4G customers' usage patterns. Lots of video, we're willing to bet.

10:00AM He says his experiences validate claims that carrier profits start to turn into losses if 3G cards cross an average utilization of 3-4GB per month. Lots of issues at play there: spectrum, backhaul, and so on.

9:58AM On the back end, they've innovated with backhaul -- a huge part of making a data-heavy mobile network operate.

9:57AM Historically, mobile networks have been voice-based with data bolted on; Clearwire is taking a data-first approach for its network architecture. "We started with the best technology available with the best spectral efficiency -- WiMAX."

9:56AM "Would you explain to us a little bit about your networks and what they mean for the industry?"

9:56AM He also worked for Vodafone in the UK which was a starkly different experience... more carriers, more spectrum auctions, more MVNOs. Lower cost for the consumer, less network innovation.

9:54AM He worked in Japan and says that the country is still estimated to have a 4-plus year lead in wireless over the US... his experiences there are helping him reverse that trend.

9:53AM "How have your past experiences helped you at Clearwire?"

9:53AM Clearwire is a "network of networks" -- they're happy to open the network (and presumably, take investments from) anyone that's interested.

9:52AM He says that Google and Intel want nothing more than to see Clearwire grow -- it helps them for WiMAX to proliferate.

9:51AM Morrow's indicating that the board is structured such that Clearwire has enough autonomy to do what they need to do.

9:51AM Referring to the fact that Clearwire has tons of big-name investors: "What's it like to have all those bosses?"

9:50AM Here comes Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow.

9:50AM "I can tell that Sprint is in good hands with Dan Hesse at the helm." And he's off! Steve's still on stage.

9:49AM He's pointing out that any device with WiFi can take advantage of 4G -- mobile hotspots are obviously a key point in Sprint's strategy going forward, and both the Overdrive and the EVO (with its 8-connection support) are evidence of that.

9:48AM "You'll also see all sorts of new categories of devices... that aren't phones."

9:47AM "You're going to see much faster processors... this [showing the EVO] is a supercomputer."

9:47AM "How will devices change with 4G? How are they different from 3G devices?

9:45AM He's giving an example where a 4G-outfitted ambulance is transmitting live video to the hospital so the doctors can prepare before the patient even arrives.

9:43AM Education, security, medical... Hesse's running through the laundry list of verticals where 4G can make a difference.

9:42AM Steve's asking about vertical markets now, noting that Hesse keynoted at HIMSS (a healthcare informatics show) recently.

9:41AM Talking about partnerships with cable companies: "Their main business is video distribution... do you want the key cable companies for you or against you?"

9:40AM "We clearly have the volume to go it alone. But it costs billions and billions to build a 4G network. It's an opportunity to have someone help us build it out faster. When you combine our spectrum position with Clearwire's, it's even stronger."

9:39AM Regarding the Clearwire partnership, "why did you choose this path?"

9:38AM "We could always add other technologies later, but it let us get to market faster."

9:38AM "LTE will most likely be the larger of the 4G standards, but for us, we couldn't wait."

9:38AM "In essence, it was time to market. WiMAX was tried, true, tested, working technology. We could go 4G now, or wait for other technologies."

9:37AM "Why did Sprint choose WiMAX as its 4G technology?"

9:37AM "One of the reasons we moved to 4G is because we could. We had the spectrum position. My predecessors had the foresight" to load up on the spectrum they'd need.

9:36AM "Although, you know, from a competitive perspective... spectrum is a very valuable resource, and we have a strong spectrum position."

9:36AM Steve's bringing up the need for additional spectrum.

9:35AM It sounds like Sprint's long-term plan is to go to an exclusively data-based model -- voice minutes will start to go away, and it'll be more about monthly byte buckets.

9:35AM "It's like standard def versus high def, but with that analogy, you paid more for the better service. With 4G, we're giving you more for free."

9:34AM With 4G, "because we can produce a gigabyte cheaper, we can offer more to the customer."

9:33AM "3G's kind of getting exhausted. I talk to my network guys, and it's like Scottie in the engine room... 'she's going as fast as she can!'"

9:32AM He's got an EVO 4G on him... no surprise, we suppose. He's not really answering Steve's question so far, just talking about how awesome WiMAX and the EVO are.

9:31AM "That's an opportunity for a plug, so I'll use it... yesterday, we introduced the HTC EVO 4G."

9:31AM "How will 4G help customers with their tremendous data usage?"

9:30AM Ah, this is a sit-down -- Steve's staying on stage! Very casual... we feel like we're in Dan's living room. But not really. But sort of.

9:30AM He's giving a rather fantastical intro to Dan Hesse... and here he comes!

9:29AM Steve's back on stage.

9:29AM Triolgy believes that a rebuilt Haiti could be completely "copper-free" -- no landline services whatsoever, just wireless.

9:27AM "Impulse philanthropy" -- donating via text message -- is "revolutionizing" giving.

9:26AM T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint are all being thanked by Trilogy for donating equipment to help keep the network running -- Verizon is notably absent.

9:24AM Israeli Search and Rescue is on the video, saying they were able to avoid satellite phones thanks to Voila's functioning network.

9:22AM This is a great story and it's great that they were able to keep the network up through most of the crisis, but it still feels like they're diverting too much of the attention to their Haitian wireless network in a situation where hundreds of thousands of people were homeless and without food. Video: "A lifeline in the devastation."

9:20AM They "commandeered" a turboprop aircraft and converted it into a cargo plane to bring in food for their local employees and gave them a month's salary in cash.

9:19AM They ultimately brought down their network to stave off overheating while they assembled a crack team in the Dominican Republic. This is sounding like a Hollywood movie -- lots of intrigue and high drama here.

9:17AM "We determined that our network was the only one really operating in Port-au-Prince, and we had to keep it running."

9:16AM Now we're watching a video about the earthquake earlier this year. "Word came in at 4:58PM via text message that Port-au-Prince had been violently rocked."

9:14AM He's talking about all the challenges of operating in Haiti: crime, terrible roads, no power, et cetera. Yet they're still there, doing good. That's great, but private corporations aren't charities -- what do you want to bet they're turning a profit (or planning on it)?

9:13AM "We now serve over one million [wireless] customers in Haiti." Trilogy is the largest US operation in Haiti and a huge taxpayer to the nation.

9:12AM "Wireless technology spreads democracy."

9:11AM "Given the complexities and challenges of operating in improverished countries, why do you do it?" The answer: wireless is easier to deploy than landline communications, and gosh darnit, people need access to this stuff.

9:10AM John Stanton and Brad Horwitz of Triolgy are taking the stage.

9:09AM Red Cross president Gail McGovern is joining us via a recorded message, saying that she's stoked about the organization's partnership with the CTIA and the help mobile customers and carriers have provided in getting a new generation of folks to up their donation dollars.

9:07AM Lots of love here -- text4baby free texting program for expectant mothers. Steve's talking up the incredible response to the Haiti earthquake donation program in which all four national carriers participated.

9:04AM He's talking about texting while driving, showing off a commercial they're using to get people to stop -- teens in particular.

9:01AM CTIA prez Steve Largent is taking the stage.

8:58AM We're in and seated -- we'll be starting shortly!

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