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Sitting Down With ATT's De la Vega--And His Gadgets

AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega's got a heavy bag. On a daily basis, he carries an iPhone, Blackberry, BlackJack and Vu.

"But the problem is all those chargers; I have to carry four different chargers for the phones which makes my bag really heavy," he said during a conversation with me yesterday after a speech at the CTIA Wireless conference.

His over-gadgeted lifestyle didn't surprise me. He is a wireless chief, after all and one former Post tech reporter told me how he'd ribbed her for carrying around a very out-dated phone, back in 2004---a joke he likes to repeat to this day. In our interview, he showed me how he uses Google Maps, eBay and Yahoo Go! on his Blackberry.

His use of many devices and applications was precisely his argument that AT&T's wireless business is practicing open network principals. The idea is to invite all manufacturers and device makers to pitch in
ideas for new wireless technologies. It's use of SIM cards allows consumers to transfer files like address books from one phone to another and operate seamlessly between countries, he argues. AT&T sees open networks as important because consumers, not regulators, will drive the creation of new phones and functions on their devices, De la Vega said.

Even though he supports the principles, it was nevertheless good news to him when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said on Tuesday he plans to issue an order that would dismiss a proposal to codify those open network principals in law for wireless carriers. (Proponents of open network, or net neutrality rules, said Martin's move was a step backward for consumers.)

"I think what the chairman has said is that he now realizes that there's a lot of capability for customers to get applications on phones and those applications are making more progress every day, so there is no need to regulate them," De la Vega said.

Interestingly, De la Vega said in a luncheon speech before our interview that he recently visited with Google to talk about their plans for an open wireless platform called Android. He stopped short, however, of announcing plans to use Android on its network.

"I like it a lot more than I did before. But one thing we're looking at is to see if it is truly open for other devices," he said during the speech.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 3, 2008; 8:30 AM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
Previous: Chatting with Verizon Wireless's Lowell McAdam | Next: Comparing Apples To Apples

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Please please use Android make the hours I spent learning it useful :)

Posted by: SJ | April 3, 2008 11:49 AM

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