In the opening keynote presentation today at the CTIA WIRELESS 2008 tradeshow in Las Vegas, Lowell McAdam, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless and this year's CTIA chairman, called the wireless industry a great American success story and urged public policy leaders to let the industry continue to compete.
Citing the industry's annual, multi-billion-dollar investment in network infrastructure and the 3.5 million Americans employed by the wireless industry, McAdam said, "In 25 short years, we have become a vibrant and significant growth engine for the U.S. economy. Ours is a story of innovation and the American competitive spirit at work."
McAdam noted the industry's track record of providing customers with a steady stream of high-tech products and services, and responding to their need for more minutes at lower cost, free weekends and keeping their numbers, to name a few consumer-friendly initiatives. Despite these successes, he cautioned, the dynamics of a competitive, customer-driven market could be altered dramatically.
"Our industry is at a critical crossroads as we enter our next 25 years," he said. "We cannot allow ourselves to be made into a 21st century version of a regulated utility. I believe this is a clear and present danger -- if our public policy leaders interfere and if our industry permits them to.
"To tamper with the formula that built this economic growth engine is very dangerous. Even as the economy has worsened in recent months, the wireless industry has continued as one of the few bright spots, creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, and launching exciting new products and services."
McAdam challenged wireless industry leaders to "un-invite" potential intrusion from regulators by getting rid of policies from the industry's early days that no longer make sense for customers, and by listening and responding more quickly to customers. Also, he said, the industry needs to embrace new entrants who will fuel the innovation engine, as they have already.
The potential of 4G technology, he said, will take the industry to new heights, generating growth and creating a future where consumers will routinely manage their home appliances wirelessly and remotely, or move content wirelessly across desktops, TVs and cellphones as networks converge.
"Wireless is proving to be one of the great communications and technology infrastructures of our time, an infrastructure that more than 85 percent of Americans rely on to stay safe, connected and productive," he said. "With industry leaders working together and customers driving the market, we can guarantee that our next 25 years will make our first 25 look like the on-ramp to a super technology highway."