Always wary of those who hype the benefits of mobile, I was struck by the keynotes I heard at the CTIA Wireless Show and the assertions that mobile is dramatically improving healthcare and key to keeping the U.S. competitive in global business.
The keynote delivered by Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, was direct. In his view, the U.S. faces fierce battles for mobile innovation leadership.
“It is clear that America’s global competitors are not standing still,” Genachowski told attendees in Orlando, Florida. “American leadership in a global economy is not a birthright. Mobile is critical to America’s future.”
Mobile broadband is a big part of this. As Genachowski explained: It is not only “of vital importance to our economy and our innovation future,” it is central because “no sector now holds more promise for opportunity, for economic growth, for improvements to our quality of life, and for our global competitiveness.”
In fact, he said mobile broadband is essential to the well-being of business and society on the whole. “[The] explosion in demand for mobile services places unsustainable demands on our invisible infrastructure – spectrum. Spectrum is the oxygen that allows all of these mobile innovations to breathe. Whether or not most Americans know the physics of spectrum, they know what it feels like to have a dropped call or a slow connection or cranky Wi-Fi.”
And our demand for mobile broadband is on the rise, fueled by the advance of connected devices such smartphones and tablets. Specifically, smartphones use “24 times the amount of spectrum” that feature phones use. Tablets use “120 times more.”
Genachowski did the math and concluded that the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband represents “about a threefold increase over where we were a few years ago.” That’s not bad — unless you consider that analysts currently forecast a 35X increase in mobile broadband traffic over the next five years. In its Visual Networking Index Forecast, Cisco has projected that global mobile data traffic will increase 39 times from 2009 to 2014. What’s more, by 2014, annual global mobile data traffic will reach 3.5 exabytes per month.
Little wonder that Genachowski is adamant about the requirement for more spectrum. As he put it: “As the demand increases, and the benefits are more compelling by the day, it’s all the more reason why unleashing more spectrum must be a national priority.”
HOW I SEE IT: Genachowski is on the mark (and not alone). His comments are in line with the new realization that wireless is indeed a game-changer. Evidence of a seismic shift is everywhere you look. From projections that more people will access the Web on mobile devices (than on PCs), to Google’s assertion that more revenue will come from mobile than online, it’s logical that countries (not just companies) are jockeying for a top-notch spot in this new mobile world. The focus on innovation – and the investment that goes with it – is good news for marketers everywhere. That is, assuming that you are like me and embrace frenetic and dramatic change rather than fear it.
Healthcare is a vertical poised to benefit immensely from mobile.
In his CTIA keynote speech, visionary and business leader Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., confirmed that we are on the verge of revolution in healthcare driven by mobile.
He shared scenarios (only a few years off) where mobile will vastly improve the treatment of cancer. Essentially, it will be “commonplace” for cancer patients to have their genome sequenced and analyzed, and for patient-specific treatment and guidance to be sent to physicians on their mobile devices at the point of care.
“There is a widening gulf between medical science, which thanks to genomics and proteomics can now show us how disease affects individual patients at a molecular level, and the delivery of healthcare, which is increasingly struggling to absorb even yesterday’s information,” Soon-Shiong told the audience. “Information technologies now exist that will enable us to close that gap, and enable real time information to be used by healthcare providers and consumers, thereby giving us better health and a more cost effective system of care.”
HOW I SEE IT: The impact (and benefit) of mobile on healthcare is inspiring. We read each day that doctors and care givers are harnessing mobile to improve care and drive down costs. Some physicians are using iPads to be more efficient; clinics are sending out text messages to remind us of our appointments or the date of our next check-up; and patients in rural areas are receiving world-class treatment thanks in part to the ability of doctors to diagnose remotely using their mobile phones. There is not an area of healthcare where mobile can’t help doctors and hospitals to do their job better and more efficiently. It will be exciting to watch this progress and we in the industry (and regardless of vertical) would do well to approach our work with the same imagination, passion and commitment.
And finally, an admission that CTIA was much more interesting than expected. You might recall that I wrote in my last column (before the show) that CTIA was likely to be a yawn after all the exciting news that came out at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and the Mobile World Congress last month.
I was wrong (and so were many others).
Just hours before the show, AT&T announced its intention to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. Predictably, discussion of the proposed deal dominated conversations in the hallways, across the showroom floor, and throughout the event. The FCC’s Genachowski refused to comment, but other executives from Sprint and Verizon were more open with their views.
“My opinion doesn’t matter,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse responded to a question from the audience. “I think the FCC and the DOJ [Department of Justice]… and that’s it….[but] if the transaction is allowed to take place, it will mean a 79 percent market share for the top two providers. I do have concerns that it would stifle innovation and put too much power in the hands of just two.”
Asked to comment on a New York Times headline that read: “For Consumers, Little to Cheer in AT&T Deal”, Hesse didn’t mince words. “I have to agree with the Times,” he said.
In what is surely a chess game, Verizon’s strategy was to show calm.
“We’re extremely confident of where we’re at with our assets and what we can deliver to our customers,” Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, said.
HOW I SEE IT: Lots of questions and no clear answers. Expect a long process and lots more conjecture on what this move will mean for consumers. What about us marketers? Will fewer carriers mean higher consumer bills, less data use and a slowdown in mobile marketing momentum? We will also have to wait it out. One thing for sure: it will be top of mind (as it well should be) for weeks and months to come.
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A career author and sought-after speaker, Jeff Hasen builds, strengthens and protects brands. Companies benefiting from his talents have landed on Wired’s list of most innovative entities on Earth and been named pioneers and the early leader in the burgeoning mobile marketing category. Jeff co-created the certification program for the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). He is one of only two individuals certified by the MMA to train professionals and students on mobile marketing definitions, techniques and benefits. At Hipcricket, he conceived and led the execution of an accelerated rebranding effort in advance of the mobile marketing software and services company being named “the early leader in the mobile marketing space in the U.S.” by Frost and Sullivan. Hipcricket also won consecutive annual pioneer awards from CTIA — The Wireless Association. Follow Jeff on Twitter (@jeffhasen).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Jeff Hasen for this contribution and to everyone who reads and supports MSearchGroove. I have not posted in the last weeks due to deaths in my family. My personal thanks to everyone who sent good thoughts via Twitter. I will be back in action next week —