AT&T officials stunned the tech world when they announced the deal March 20, just 48 hours before the wireless industry's largest trade show of the year. The deal, if approved, will drastically affect the plans of many companies gathered at CTIA to show off their latest devices.
"The proposed transaction that was just announced,"Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, told the audience during his keynote. "I'm not going to comment on that."
The audience laughed. The FCC is one of the regulatory bodies that will have to review the proposed AT&T deal.
Instead, Genachowski focused on unleashing more spectrum, calling this "a national priority." Suggesting that wireless helps drive innovation, he added: "If we don't innovate in the private sector and government, we risk letting big opportunities pass us by."
In the meantime, he added, the spectrum-squeeze issue facing the United States is critical. Everything from cars to health-care applications would eventually benefit from tighter integration with wireless technology, predicted Sprint CEO Dan Hesse during his keynote.Like the FCC chairman, Hesse called out the need for more spectrum for wireless devices, referring to it as the air "that gives our industry life and growth."
The keynote sessions also featured Jim Kramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money," hosting a round-table with the wireless industry's biggest CEOs: Hesse, Verizon Wireless' Daniel Mead, and AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets President and CEO Ralph de la Vega.
The AT&T leader suggested the "need for additional spectrum" helped drive the deal with T-Mobile. "Few things in life grow 8,000 percent over four years," he said, before adding that the potential acquisition "helps alleviate the crunch by allowing the networks to be combined and more efficiently utilize that spectrum."
For more, read the eWeek article AT&T, T-Mobile Deal Dominates Day 1 at CTIA 2011.