Mobilize: Don't Neglect the Network

JDD090910-mobilize-D71_3005It’s a less glamorous topic than the flashy unveiling of Motorola’s first Android phone, the Cliq, but the reality behind what makes devices like the Cliq possible is the high-speed network that connects it. Rick Keith, senior director of Strategy for Broadband Access Solutions at Motorola, who sat on a panel discussing high-speed networks at our Mobilize conference following the Cliq unveiling, went as far as to call his panel “like following up Madonna.” However, he pointed out, the network is doing the heavy lifting and will be a chief driver of innovation and new services.

Chetan Sharma, president of Chetan Sharma Consulting, pointed out that ubiquitous high-speed broadband, which could one day offer speeds like 50 megabits everywhere, will be driven by browsing, peer-to-peer networks and video. As Om has said before, consumers have an insatiable appetite for bandwidth, and if the networks are available, consumers will find ways to use it and developers will create innovative services to fill it. At those kind of “ultraband” speeds, “everything that can be connected will be connected,” said Ken Denman, CEO of Openwave Systems. “We’re at a state where you put a cell phone base station anywhere, and it gets filled up.”

All of that bandwidth will require a whole lot of capital — billions and billions of dollars, said Abhi Ingle, VP for Industry and Mobility Application Systems for AT&T. The kinds of networks needed for that level of bandwidth are not a commodity that are lying around somewhere, Ingle said. It will be very expensive.

Of course, high-speed ubiquitous broadband won’t come from one big network. Ultraband will require both wired and wireless networks and different standards and technologies like Wi-Fi, WiMAX, cellular, Ethernet, and so on. But blending all these networks seamlessly should be the objective, emphasized the panel. “The user doesn’t care what network they use,” said Motorola’s Keith. AT&T’s Ingle said the telecom company is focusing on blending together a hybrid of networks to offer this seamless type of service.

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