AT&T chief assesses wirless progress

AT&T chief assesses wirless progress

The wireless industry has come a long way in the past three years even though some futuristic predictions of the boom years have not become reality, according to the chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Wireless Services, John Zeglis.

He admitted the scenarios enabled by wireless services that he presented in his first speech at Comdex three years ago were over the top. For example, he had talked about a world in which chairs, clothes and air fresheners combined with wireless networks to deliver a total sensory experience.

“The line between audacious vision and over-the-top hype can be fairly thin and easy to cross,” Zeglis said.

What has come true is that user numbers have grown significantly and available bandwidth for data services has increased.

Plenty of work remained to be done, Zeglis said. He called upon other operators to co-operate more on inter­operability and standards. He also said the US government should free up more radio spectrum for wireless carriers, reiterating calls to action he made in 2000.

Looking to the future, Zeglis repeated what many wireless carriers and mobile phone makers had already said. “Wireless is going to displace wired big time,” he said.

Five per cent of wireless users had already said they didn’t have a wired line, Zeglis said.

To increase that, AT&T Wireless is hatching a plan to make landlines redundant, but not the phones already on the kitchen wall, on the desk or installed in the basement. When the customer is at home, all calls to the mobile phone could be forwarded to a base station device via Bluetooth.

That base station would be plugged into a regular phone jack and would forward the calls to wired phones around the house, Zeglis said.

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