Former vice president brings a mix of tech savvy
and forward thinking to CTIA keynote.
CTIA has a history of inviting prominent political figures to keynote the conference. In 2007, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush kicked off Day 3 of the show. But this year’s pick may be more relevant than both combined. Al Gore represents more than just a piece of Washington, D.C.; he offers a unique mix of tech savvy, political clout and understanding of the current environmental crisis.
“He’s very much in our space in a lot of different areas,” says Rob Mesirow, vice president of CTIA, noting that “Smart Energy” is one of the show’s main initiatives. But Mesirow also says that Gore’s knowledge of technology makes him a good voice for this year’s conference in Las Vegas.
THE TECHNOCRAT,THE ENVIRONMENTALIST
On the technology side, Gore’s resume is lavish. No, he didn’t invent the Internet, but he might have been the first of our political leaders to truly understand the value of providing such a network to citizens of the United States. He is co-founder and chairman of Current TV, an independently owned cable and satellite television network for young people based on viewer-created content and citizen journalism. Of course, closer to home for the wireless industry, he has a seat on the board of directors at Apple and serves as a senior advisor to Google.
On the environmental side, Gore is an icon. Thirty years ago, during his time as a Congressman, he advocated for confronting global warming. Those efforts were chronicled in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. He also led the Clinton administration’s efforts to protect the environment in a way that would also strengthen the economy. Gore is also co-founder and chairman of Generation of Investment Management, a firm focused on eco-friendly sustainable investment.
Most recently, Gore returned to the global stage as spokesman for the movement to stop global warming and climate change. His 2006 Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was hailed as a global wake-up call to the possibly devastating environmental effects of greenhouse gases. Everyone heard that alarm, and the wireless industry was no exception.
A GREENER WIRELESS ECOSYSTEM
A recently updated report from Ovum on the impact of the wireless industry on the U.S. economy stated that “by 2016, the value of the combined mobile wireless voice and broadband productivity gains to the U.S. economy – $427 billion per year – will exceed today’s motor vehicle manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries combined.”
Given the Obama administration’s renewed emphasis on climate change – $80 billion in stimulus funds have been allocated for renewable energy programs – the economic impact of the wireless industry will be measured in different terms than 10 or even five years ago. CTIA’s emphasis on smart energy is no coincidence. The wireless industry is one of many industries waking up to the fact that environmental and economic sustainability are inextricably linked.
From more efficient base stations to remote utility management, the wireless industry is marking a definite turn toward not only a greener wireless industry but a greener world. Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia are two of the bigger names in the industry that are signatories on the United Nations Global Compact. The compact is intended to hold businesses to observation of 10 key principles in the areas of human rights, labor, corruption and environmental sustainability. In 2007, the GSM Association, which unites 750 mobile operators across 219 countries, launched an initiative to use solar, wind and sustainable bio-fuels to power 118,000 base stations in developing countries by 2012.
Handset and battery recycling programs are increasingly prevalent. Organizations like Green Peace and Basel Action Network have been aggressive about developing better standards for the disposal of e-waste. They’ve also partnered with key OEMs to help develop more environmentally friendly products. And the handset manufacturers are increasingly highlighting the green aspects of their products.
Perhaps initiatives like these are one of the reasons Gore’s presence is not only relevant but a much anticipated event at this year’s CTIA conference. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that everyone knows there’s an iPhone in his pocket and he knows how to use it. Either way, Gore will undoubtedly be speaking about a future where wireless technology enables a healthier planet.
REDUCED ATTENDANCE =REDUCED EMISSIONS
Mesirow said that attendance is trending around 6 percent below last year. Most will see those lower numbers as a result of the current recession. But perhaps this year’s keynote headliner will suggest that this year’s absentees are simply choosing the greener option: reducing carbon emissions by staying home and watching his keynote online.
Filed Under: Industry regulations