We were hoping for an epic slugfest between the CEOs of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon during the CTIA 2011 keynote but instead we got a few playful jabs and a whole lot of talk about collaboration, innovation and how amazing the wireless industry is.
Unlike the previous CTIA keynote, the CEOs of the three largest U.S. wireless carriers didn’t share the stage at the same time, so the event lacked spontaneity for the most part. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse came out on stage and likened the AT&T, T-Mobile deal to the Abraham Lincoln assassination and said that AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega looked like John Wilkes Booth. AT&T’s leader later went on to call Hess the “best actor in the wireless industry.”
Beyond these brief asides, the CEOs of the largest carriers had a peaceful tone that focused more on what the industry as a whole has to offer. The Fall CTIA show is generally focused on the enterprise markets, so we saw countless videos about how machine-to-machine connections can change the way we work and play and how the mobile industry can make a significant impact on the economy, healthcare, the environment and more.
There were some eye-popping stats displayed, as the wireless penetration rate in the United States is now at 104 percent – this means there are more connected devices than there are people. The growth in wireless data traffic 110 percent year-over-year and smartphone adoption grew 56 percent in that same time frame. All of the CEOs expected those numbers to continue to skyrocket and talked about the need for more spectrum.
What was missing? Well, the massive AT&T, T-Mobile deal was only referenced once in passing and I was surprised that de la Vega didn’t try to use event as a way to promote it.