February 02, 2001, 2:02 PM — MOBILE phones are on the verge of becoming the centerpiece of personal computing, with higher data transmission speeds and a wireless infrastructure in place, spurring demand for services, said Dennis Strigl, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, Thursday in a ComNet keynote speech.
"The day is coming when wireless will no longer be thought of as a separate and distinct form of communications," Strigl said in the final keynote of the trade show. "I would predict . . . that the qualifiers wireless and wired will disappear as wireless actually becomes the centerpiece."
Stressing the importance of speed, Strigl said that Verizon, formed in the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is already testing 144Kbps service, and the company plans to offer it commercially later this year. The trials are testing technology known as 1XRTT on equipment made by Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks to check the mobility of the service, speeds, and spectral efficiencies, and will continue the trials for about six months before the services go on the market. The next evolution, including speeds of 2.4Mbps is coming rapidly behind the 144Kbps trials, he said.
Speed and the built-out infrastructure combined with factors such as the acceptance of applications, including e-mail and a cell phone market penetration of about 40 percent in the United States, have brought wireless data to a critical juncture, Strigl said.
"In short, the technology is real, the demand is real because the function of mobility has ever-increasing value to our highly mobile American lifestyle," he said. "So it is not a stretch to say that the wireless phone is on a fast track to becoming the very centerpiece of information and services any time, anywhere."
Over the past few years, Strigl admitted that he has not been "bullish" on wireless data, but he's come to see its potential.
Strigl said Verizon is moving aggressively on wireless data, but will not replicate what is done on the desktop. The services will deliver a unique Internet experience that will couple microbrowsing and dial-up Internet services with SMS (short message services) and allow for "deep customization of mobile content," he said.
"Instead of browsing being our focus . . . we are creating a tool that enables customers to put critical and time-sensitive information on continuous monitoring, allowing customers to check status, get alerted, and make transactions when they want to," Strigl said.