Cellco regulators are not the customer's friends

Says industry bigwig who doesn't like regulation


CTIA Wireless LAS VEGAS - Steve Largent, American Football hero and president of CTIA, the US cellular industry association, spent his keynote speech today reminding the industry that it was customers who asked for video on their mobile phones, that it was customers who asked for 3D games on their phones, and that it is now now customers who are demanding control of home appliances on their mobile phones.

How remiss of you if you forgot asking your cellco for such things. But how meaningful is bottom-up demand for new services?

The mobile industry has always viewed the end user as an address to which bills are sent, while operators and manufacturers decide what features fit best with their business models, and how much shepherding the users will put up with.

Speaking at the CTIA trade show, Largent was clear-cut on what the industry needs to ensure it can continue to answer supposed demands: less regulation and freedom from that already imposed.

Nothing new there from Largent, a former US congressman, whose "seven-year voting record reflects consistent support for lower taxes, less regulation, and strong free markets".

But he has a friend in fellow Republican, Kevin Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who ambled onto the CTIA keynote stage at the Las Vegas Hilton, after his turn.

Martin assured the throng that the regulator had a much smaller role for itself planned in the future.

And he trumpeted the success of America's recent 700MHz auction, pointing out that 69 per cent of the licenses went to smaller companies, though he forgot to mention that those companies only spent $3.5bn, between them, compared to the almost $16bn spent by the two incumbents.

AT&T and Verizon still own the nationwide networks in the US, and they decide what features handsets need to take best advantage of the services they think will be more profitable to them. ®

Bootnote

For all the news on the CTIA Wireless trade show see our CTIA roundup.

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