AT&T chairman sees mobile devices driving economic development

The rise of mobile broadband technology will drive a new wave of productivity and economic development similar to that produced by the advent of the Internet. Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, made that declaration during his keynote address at the annual conference for customers of Sterling Commerce, a supplier of B2B integration solutions, and an AT&T company.
By Sidney Hill, Jr., Executive Editor May 1, 2009

The rise of mobile broadband technology will drive a new wave of productivity and economic development similar to that produced by the advent of the Internet.

Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, made that declaration during his keynote address at the annual conference for customers of Sterling Commerce, a supplier of B2B integration solutions, and an AT&T company.

"New devices will come with 4G networks, and soon it will be difficult to find any electronic device that is not connected wirelessly," Stephenson said. "We are just on the edge of this with the iPhone, which has an entire ecosystem created around it. There are now 35,000 applications available for the iPhone, and Apple recently reported that more than 1 billion people have downloaded those applications."

AT&T is the primary service provider for Apple’s wildly successful iPhone.

Holding up one of the devices, Stephenson said AT&T’s vision is for users—including businesspeople—to be able to have the same experience on an iPhone or a BlackBerry that they have when accessing applications from desktop or laptop computers.

When asked about the synergy between a telecommunications giant like AT&T and an e-commerce software provider like Sterling Commerce, Stephenson once again held up his iPhone and said, "All of the applications that Sterling Commerce provides should be available on this device."

Sterling Commerce offers two categories of solutions:

  • B2B integration solutions; and

  • Selling and fulfillment applications.

At the user conference, held April 27– 29 in San Antonio, Texas, Sterling introduced a new set of B2B integration solutions under the name, Sterling Business Integration Suite.

"Fast data and video from any location is what we expect to provide," Stephenson continued. "We spent $9 billion last year buying spectrum to accommodate that."

Noting that his weekly staff meetings are now held via video conference rather than face-to-face, Stephenson said, "imagine having that capability" on a mobile phone.

Once that happens, he predicted, there will be a new wave of productivity, commerce, and prosperity rivaling the one sparked by the emergence of the Internet.