Marty Cooper: ArrayComm's CEO shares his vision for the wireless world

By Geneva Sapp, InfoWorld |  Networking

SONY'S RECENT INVESTMENT in ArrayComm's new wireless technology may herald the implosion of wireless initiatives in the United States. ArrayComm's iBurst -- called the DSL of wireless by some observers -- offers alternatives to the expensive proposition of building third-generation wireless networks. Marty Cooper, CEO and co-founder of ArrayComm and inventor of the cellular phone, spoke with InfoWorld reporter Geneva Sapp about his vision for a wireless world.

InfoWorld: What are the forces driving wireless initiatives, and what is needed to bring these technologies to the fruition in the United States?

Cooper: I've thought about that perhaps more than anything else. The bottom line is, because of the way that cellular started out in the United States with the fragmentation, with competitive licenses in many markets, it has taken wireless a longer time to get organized. I'm convinced that's the right way and that the way it's being done in other places like Europe and Japan, even though it appears to be more effective in the short term, in the long term we're going to come out better.

The bottom line is, the way the world of telecommunications has evolved from the beginning has been through monopolies. Even today, when you want a telephone, you go to the telephone company. And it wasn't that long ago that the phone company was one company: in the whole United States, AT&T; in Japan, it was NTT; in Britain, it was British Telecom. And the telecommunications world got into a monopoly mode of thinking. That is in contrast with other consumer products where there's competition, where there are many, many solutions to serve every facet of the market. The telecommunications industry has grown up with one company doing all the creative thinking and deciding what the products are and what the services are and how to bill for those services, and the change that is happening in the world is the result of competition. The fact is there really is not one solution for all problems. There are lots of solutions, and that's true in every marketplace.

What you're seeing now with the halting but accelerating growth of wireless local loop and the aggressive growth of wireless data in Japan, with PHS [Personal Handyphone Service] now offering 64Mb[ps] now and 128[Mbps] later this year and imode in Japan offering a different kind of data to cellular users; each one of these things is the solution for different kinds of customers. Frequently they take different kinds of infrastructure, different kinds of networks. That kind of thinking is going to pervade the future of telecommunications: lots of solutions and lots of different applications to solve lots of different consumer needs.

InfoWorld: Is this in contrast to universality?

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