May 10, 2012, 11:14 AM — NEW ORLEANS - CTIA is normally a show where you hear about the dazzling future that the wireless industry will bring about. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, however, thinks carriers might be getting a bit ahead of themselves.
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The issue, as Hesse outlined it in his keynote speech at CTIA this week, is that carriers have still not definitively solved the "dumb pipes" conundrum - that is, how do carriers prevent themselves from being relegated to pushing bits on their networks while over-the-top content providers rake in cash by offering value-added services?
To make things more complicated, Hesse said the wireless industry was currently suffering a "trust and reputation crisis" and noted that the latest research from the Reputation Institute showed that all three major U.S. wireless carriers ranked in the bottom third in customer reputation among all major U.S. companies. What's more, Hesse said that the companies at the top of the reputation chain were big tech players such as Google, Amazon and Apple, which carriers will have to compete with for value-added wireless services. In Hesse's view, reestablishing trust among customers should be the wireless industry's most important goal over the next few years.
"As we look forward as an industry, we need to see trust as our key," he said. "If they trust us they are going to buy from us, they're going to have a special relationship with us."
Unsurprisingly, Hesse's remarks on customer trust weren't entirely altruistic since they dovetailed nicely with the new Sprint Guardian security app suite that provides such core functions as malware protection, phishing protection, mobile app scanning and remote wipe capabilities, among other things. In the broader picture, Guardian is part of a charm offensive to help Sprint get its customers more comfortable with relying on it for key services that have traditionally been provided by third parties. Similarly, Sprint has also announced a new advertising policy designed to give users more control over whether they receive ads on their smartphones and tablets.