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CTIA 2010: Sybase, CTIA Trash-Talk Regulation

SAN FRANCISCO -- CTIA ENTERPRISE & APPLICATIONS 2010 -- Mobile commerce is already a large market, but what's blocking it from being even bigger is the lack of standardization and the threat of regulation, John Chen, president and CEO of Sybase Inc. , told CTIA attendees in a keynote address today.

"There's too many ways of doing the same thing," Chen said, adding that SMS, mobile Web, near-field communications, proprietary networks, and peer-to-peer are only a few options. "The industry needs to come together not to define a way, but to define a set of specifications to develop on."

Even with the most generous projections for mCommerce, it will still be less than 10 percent of eCommerce activities, he said. That's worrisome, considering there are 5 billion devices out in the world and that more people are buying smartphones than PCs. (See Pyramid Predicts Mobile Money Boom in Africa, Survey: US Lags in Mobility , Google, Apple Fight Carriers for Mobile Money, Sybase 365 Opens Mobile Wallet, and Sybase 365, MoPay Team Up.)
If the mCommerce players -- of which there are many -- don’t come together to define general rules of engagement, someone else will do it for them, Chen warned. That's the government and that's "the scariest part of all," he said. (See Mo'bile Money, Mo' Problems and Operators Cash In on Mobile Payments .)

Chen, a self-proclaimed free-market proponent, is a big believer in small government. He said that it is wrong for the government to try to regulate core wireless services and Internet apps. He went on to say that there are a lot of "F words" that concern him, including Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission , which he basically put on par with the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word. "F is trouble," Chen said.

"Mobility is going to be the backbone of the economy... and it has to be global for it to work," he said, but, if there's heavy-handed regulation, cross-border adoption of remittance, payments, commerce -- all of it stops."

CTIA prez warns against net neutrality
Chen's keynote address followed CTIA president Steve Largent's opening address, in which he noted that mobile data revenues in the US accounted for more than 31 percent of carriers' total revenue as of June, up from 25 percent in the first half of last year. In total, data brought in $25 billion in just the first half of the year. These revenues came from the more than 161 billion megabytes of data the carriers delivered in the first half of the year, up from 108 billion megabytes during the second half of last year.

Largent used the explosive data growth as a reason to support government intervention in wireless. Or, at least its proposal to make 500Mhz of spectrum available in the next 10 years. But, he spoke out against it when it means regulations enforcing net neutrality. Those shouldn't apply to wireless operators because of the physics of spectrum.

"Network management is not some abstract concept," he said. "It's a must. Carriers must be allowed to put their great engineering expertise into practice. In order for wireless to work for everyone, our networks must be managed in a unique way. It's just that simple."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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