Sprint.com

September 06, 2013

Dan Hesse Remarks at IFA, Berlin

Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO
Remarks at IFA, Berlin
Sept. 6, 2013
 
It’s a pleasure to be here today with you in Berlin.  I have great memories of going to high school near Stuttgart Germany, of bratwurst stands, Gumee Bears, Dinkelacker, Foosball tables in the gasthaus’s and driving my Opel Kadett’s 1.9 liter engine as fast as it would go on the Autobahn.  Perhaps the best part for an American was that you got 4 marks to the dollar!
 
One indelible unpleasant but moving memory was peering over the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie in the early 70’s and seeing the museum there, and the extent that people went to to get out of East Germany.  It’s wonderful to see how this city and country have changed so positively since then.
 
On the subject of change, perhaps no industry has changed or been reshaped more than wireless in recent years.  The innovations that are reshaping the wireless industry are transforming perhaps every product that’s represented at IFA.  And they are not incremental changes, they’re transformational.  They bring to mind the words of the famous British writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
 
The more we understand those transformations and work together to address them, the better we can use this advanced technology, this “wireless magic.”  Here’s what a wireless phone looked like in 1989, when IFA first showcased the mobile phone!
 
Back then, wireless phones were only for making voice calls, and they had some problems doing even that.  Today, wireless is one of seven trillion-dollar industries, and most of you can reach inside your pockets and pull out something that looks like this.
 
And if you get bored with my speech, you can pretend to be taking notes while you’re using the phone for everything from e-mail, to watching Bundesliga and Premier League matches, to checking weather or traffic.  
 
Powered by advances in digital technology, wireless has moved far beyond a linear path where the bag phone became the flip phone, which became the smartphone, to an exponential path. Wireless has evolved to enable an entirely new dimension for home appliances, smartgrids, healthcare, and cars.  (A leader in smart cars, Alan Mulally of Ford will be speaking later).
 
Global wireless data communication first surpassed voice communication in 2009.  And the gap between data and voice continues to grow.  Sprint has been a leader in developing and deploying advanced, high speed wireless networks. In 2009, we were the first U.S. national wireless company to deploy a fourth generation network. It is estimated that by the end of this year there will be 244 commercial 4G LTE networks in 87 countries.
 
Faster, digital wireless networks along with vastly improved computing, software, and remote sensors – helped enable a dramatic increase in machine-to-machine communication, or M2M. M2M connects machines to each other and to the Internet, such as high-speed wireless connections between vehicles, smart grids, high-definition cameras, remote sensors, laptops, and potentially just about every consumer electronic device represented at IFA. These kinds of connections are also being called “the internet of things.”
 
Cisco says that there’ll be 25 billion ‘things’ connected to the Internet by 2015. But even more impressive than the statistics is the way innovation in wireless technology is transforming many aspects of our lives.
 
Mobile technology is making our homes more comfortable, safer and more efficient. With off-the-shelf technology available today, for example, home owners can install systems that allow them to control their entire house with their mobile phone or other wireless device. You can use an app to program or remotely adjust the thermostat.
 
Or suppose you’re far from home, and you hear a neighbor’s house has been burglarized.  You can remotely lock deadbolts or activate alarms.  You can also check what’s going on inside your home through a remote camera. 
 
Many of you may have seen “The Jetsons,” that U.S. cartoon series from the 1960s about a family living in the future. The Jetsons had life easy, except when George took dog Astro for a walk on the treadmill, because all their appliances were programmed to do the daily chores.  The show was supposed to take place in 2062.
 
Flash back 50 years to today.  Inside the home, appliances are getting connected and smarter. There is a dishwasher on the market that not only lets you activate wash cycles remotely using a mobile app, it also shows you how much energy it’s using so you can change the wash schedule to have it run when electricity rates are lower. A new smart refrigerator lets you check the food stored inside remotely, while you’re at the grocery store perhaps keeping tabs on expiration dates.  The refrigerator can even suggest meals to cook using what’s on its shelves.

When it comes to vehicles, marketing research predicts that 90 percent of new cars will have advanced wireless connections in 2020, bringing drivers new levels of ease, enjoyment and safety.
 
At Sprint, we continue to work with companies like Chrysler to bring the latest in innovation to automotive. We recently introduced our Velocity Service Bus, a communications system that lets smartphones, tablets and other devices communicate with a vehicle through the Internet. With it, drivers can touch a single button to report the location of an accident or tell roadside assistance where they are and what they need. Or, drivers can get texts or e-mails when their theft alarm is triggered. Remotely, drivers can communicate with their vehicles via the Internet to unlock the doors, sound the horn, start the engine on a cold day, or find the car in a crowded parking garage.
 
Hippocrates said that “A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings…” Wireless innovations are helping people around the world experience that blessing by improving health care, empowering people with disabilities, and promoting wellness.
 
In health care, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a healthcare application by 2015. Recent estimates suggest that there are more than 4,000 mobile medical apps now on the market.
 
Some of these apps provide instant, secure access to lab results, x-rays, vital signs, drug-to-drug interactions, and other vital medical records. Wireless technology also lets care providers remotely monitor patients suffering from diabetes and chronic diseases. 
 
To give you an example: Many people take regular medication to control cholesterol. Until recently, doctors and patients had to wait for blood-work results to see how well the medication was working.  America’s federal drug agency recently granted approval for a mobile solution that integrates an app on your phone, a skin patch, and a computer chip.
 
The chip is embedded into this -- a pill. The chip is no bigger than a grain of sand. You swallow the pill with your regular medication.  The chip interacts with your body’s chemistry to produce a voltage, which is read by the skin patch, that sends a signal to your mobile phone’s app, which tells whether the medicine is working or not.  Amazing.  Right out of the movie, The Fantastic Voyage.
 
This summer, at the American Diabetes Association’s annual scientific meeting, researchers announced major breakthroughs in using smartphones as a kind of “artificial pancreas.” An artificial pancreas allows diabetes patients to continuously monitor blood sugar levels and automatically adjust those levels to keep them normal. Until now, artificial pancreas systems used laptops wired to glucose monitors and insulin pumps. They could only be used in hospitals, were cumbersome, and drastically limited patients’ mobility.
 
Researchers from the U.S., Italy and France have built a prototype that wirelessly connects smartphones, advanced glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Because these monitors and pumps are smaller and thinner than a deck of cards, they can easily be worn by patients.  The hope is that the smartphone-enabled artificial pancreas will be a mainstream treatment for diabetes before long.
 
Wireless is empowering people with disabilities. Just ask Oksana Masters, an international rowing champion and a bronze medalist at the London Paralympic games.
 
Empowering people with disabilities has also become an increasingly important societal challenge for both America and Europe. We’re getting older. In the U.S., 10,000 people turn 65 years old every day.
 
At Sprint, we’ve made the disability challenge a central part of corporate responsibility. It’s an issue that’s personal for me. My maternal grandmother, who lived with us while I was growing up, including while we lived in Germany, was blind.  Those of you with my business card will notice the braille “bumps” on the back.  
 
We provide a range of special services and smartphone apps to help people with disabilities or with the effects of aging. For example, we offer an app that allows a blind user to operate a smartphone without the need to see or read what is displayed on the screen. Our phones and devices guide blind users through smartphone services through high-quality text-to-speech.
 
 
We’ve also developed customized applications, links, tips, icons, widgets and wallpapers to make our phones accessible to people who have difficulty hearing, and members of the deaf community who use sign language. We offer a Sprint Relay ID pack, which includes voice mail transcripts, visual and vibrating alerts and readable captions – all available in a single download. It was the first time a wireless company developed multiple applications in one package for the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.
 
Today, wireless makes it easier for people to adopt healthy lifestyles.  In the United States, almost one-quarter of adults use an electronic device to monitor their health daily. These include wireless devices such as a JawBone bracelet and FitBit that help you get or stay fit. You have probably seen some of them in your gym or along your walking path. These devices clip to your clothing or are worn like a bracelet. They measure your movement, how much energy you expend walking, working out, even sleeping. The results are displayed on your smartphone.
 
In another example, a few months ago, a team of U.S. researchers announced they had developed a new tool to help people stay safe from threats to their health in food and water. They’ve developed an iPhone-based biosensor that, with only $200 worth of parts, is just as accurate as a $50,000 laboratory spectrophotometer. With an iPhone cradle and an app, this new system can detect viruses, bacteria, toxins, proteins and even allergens in food using the smartphone’s camera as a spectrometer and the phone’s powerful processor to make calculations.   This mobile system, vs. a laboratory set-up, could be very helpful in dealing with contamination threats in the developing world.
 
Wireless can also profoundly impact society.  Advanced wireless technology is already extending and improving education in developing countries.  In Kenya, for example, the local wireless company, Safaricom is developing a system that will allow any of the country’s 7,000 state secondary schools  – no matter how remote — to access online educational content recorded at one of the country’s most prestigious institutions. The company is providing interactive whiteboards and mobile tablets, as well.
 
Around the world, mobile education technology could revolutionize education for a billion students according to a recent report by McKinsey and Company.
 
Wireless technology is also helping take on one of the 21st Century’s biggest social problems: how to improve the quality of life for women in the developing world. Women account for about 70% of the people living in poverty
.
In 2010, an alliance of mobile phone companies around the world began an innovative private/public program called mWomen. The program has already helped produce a suite of mobile phone services -- including ultrasound and links to healthcare providers designed to improve pregnancy health in remote areas. The program is also working with financial institutions to bring banking services to women who had difficulty getting loans and advice for their businesses.
 
Wireless technology can protect the environment. The connected houses and appliances I mentioned are cutting energy use. The use of smart meters that transmit real-time information back to the utility company and also to the home or business owner typically lead to a 3.5 to 7% reduction in energy consumption. For businesses with fleets of cars or trucks, wireless navigation can reduce the thousands of miles wasted and gas burned by drivers who take the wrong route.
 
In Brazil, the government is protecting the rainforest by extending the internet of things to include trees to help fight illegal logging operations. M2M radio modules are embedded in trees. The devices send alarm notifications and exact location information to officials as soon as trees pass within 20 miles of a cellular network. This enables law enforcement and the Brazilian environmental protection agents to respond in real time, trace the loggers to sawmills, and prevent the sale and profit from illegally harvested lumber.
 
Like many of the companies at IFA, Sprint has chosen to focus on the environment as a major part of our commitment to corporate responsibility. I’m proud of that in each of the last two years, Newsweek magazine ranked Sprint the #3 greenest company in America.
 
Advanced wireless technology has also become an important tool in helping people cope with natural disasters. Cell phones and cell sites on wheels provided a lifeline in the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the devastating earthquake in Haiti, tsunamis in Japan and many other disasters. And new tools are helping people prepare for the worst.  For example, the American Red Cross has developed a set of mobile apps that warn people about tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires along with training and other information to help them prepare.
 
U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle reportedly said, “The future will be better tomorrow.”  Let’s take a look at this video that helps sum up what a wireless day in your life might look like, just five years from now.
The changes you saw will be enabled by faster and more sophisticated wireless networks that are under development. That speed will help to make your phone or other device a gateway to the vast amount of data securely housed off-site – what we call “the cloud,” and be instantly available. That’s the technology behind the instant facial recognition and instant translation.
 
New wireless technology will also allow you to integrate and customize the various aspects of your life.  Like the drivers in the video, you’ll be able to enjoy exactly the music you want while being informed of road hazards ahead and alternate routes or keeping track of your car’s maintenance needs. Your home will not only provide safety and entertainment, but keep track of your health, your groceries, and your energy consumption.  And in years to come, wireless innovations will make the “things” in the internet of things not only smarter but more autonomous.   And “personal assistance”, given advances in speech to text, text to speech, data analytics, processing power, artificial intelligence and robotics, can reach an incredible level of utility and performance.
 
But all this poses challenges. Because of the amount of personal data that can be collected, there is a tradeoff between privacy and utility. 
 
The wireless industry needs to educate consumers, provide consumers with privacy choices, and earn customer trust if customers are to embrace the power and productivity of the magic that is coming.  Sprint has put protections in place – like the ability to verify the use of customer choices about the use of their personal information via independent third-party audits. 
 
Privacy is perhaps the most important public policy issue in every country, and the policies selected will either expand or diminish the potential for great wireless magic in the future.  I believe that together, we can achieve a secure wireless future that protects privacy and creates the magic that will improve lives for millions around the globe.
 
It has been a privilege and pleasure for me to be with you today, and I look forward to sitting down with Larry and continuing the conversation.

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