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Vodafone chief tells mobile users he knows where they live

Brings WiMAX attack stateside

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The Vodafone chief also believes that the mobile internet won't happen unless the industry "invests in wireless broadband networks," arguing that these networks must be "high-speed and widely available."

"Mobile operators around the world must invest in their wireless networks today," he said, "to realize the potential of tomorrow."

We would argue that every single person on the planet agrees with him. But then he brought up the standards driving these networks of tomorrow. As he argued at Mobile World Congress, Sarin insisted that the fledgling WiMAX standard should be rolled into the competing LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard.

"We need to think about LTE as a broad and encompassing standard," he said. "I was around back in the 80s and 90s, when the CDMA-TDMA wars were going on, when the GSM-WCDMA wars were going on. These wars produced very little. What we need to learn from those decades of experience is that we need a common encompassing standard. WiMAX is sitting out there. It would be good to find a home for it in the LTE standard."

Meanwhile, during a keynote delivered yesterday, Sprint president and CEO Dan Hesse bragged that his company's WiMAX network - which is already being deployed - will have at least a "two-year head start on the competition."

Indeed, LTE won't arrive until 2010 - at the earliest. But during a wireless infrastructure discussion that followed Arun Sarin's keynote, the CEOs of Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Nortel argued that LTE is better positioned to win the day, because it had much broader support among the industry's big names.

It should also be noted that when Nokia raised El Reg hack Bill Ray 180 feet above the Las Vegas pavement yesterday afternoon in an attempt to demonstrate WiMAX, the technology didn't work. At all.

We know who you are

After his WiMAX-LTE rant, Arun Sarin told the mobile industry that it better get going on mobile advertising. The phone, he said, is greatest advertising platform ever invented.

"When advertisers reach people through television, they're casting a wide net. When advertisers reach their customers through fixed line internet, they don't always know who's sitting on the other side of the computer. It could be a 42-year-old man pretending to be a 16-year-old girl. Or a 7-year-old girl pretending to be a 22-year-old woman.

"But on a mobile phone, we know who you are. We know what your age is. We know where you live. We know a lot of things about you."

He did say that operators must "use this information responsibly." But he also seems to indicate that customers won't embrace his idea of responsibility unless their bills go down. "If advertisers can find a channel into a group of customers out there in this new fashion, we will be able to target customers needs and usage and give our customers what they want - and, frankly, share some of the economic benefit with them."

He might be saying that he plans to share some of the economic benefit out of the goodness of his heart. But we doubt it. ®

Bootnote

For all the news on the CTIA Wireless trade show see our CTIA roundup.

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