Ina Fried

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Verizon CEO Talks Up Faster Networks at CES

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is taking his turn on the Consumer Electronics Show stage on Thursday morning. His speech will follow an electronics-industry state of the union speech from trade organization head Gary Shapiro.

Mobilized will have live coverage starting in a few minutes at 8:30 am PT. Verizon Wireless will have a separate press conference later on Thursday, and I’ll trek over from the Hilton to the Venetian for that as well.

8:29 am: FYI, Consumer Electronics Show Association head Gary Shapiro is up first, so he may talk for a bit. Verizon CEO may not start until 9:00.

8:32 am: They are still letting folks in. Mobilized suspects she could have gotten an extra 10 minutes sleep and is moderately bitter.

8:32 am: With no appreciation for irony whatsoever, they have just asked their “friends in the press” to cease using wireless in 10 minutes.

8:40 am: The giant video screens just changed to a big Verizon logo. “Our program will begin shortly,” comes the voice from above, asking participants to silence their mobile devices and us press to kindly refrain from doing the job we are expected to do–I mean turn off our wireless cards.

8:43 am: I think it’s okay for me though, because I am on 4G and I keep hearing how robust and capable it is.

8:46 am: Lights dim. Music peppier. Still no Gary Shapiro, but I think we’re moments away from the man before the man we’ve all been waiting for.

8:47 am: Shapiro delivering the expected announcements on how the world is full of innovation and possibility.

“Each year I await the CES like a kid awaiting Santa Claus,” Shapiro says.

8:48 am: Interesting pitch on how the CEA is trying to keep the show affordable for attendees and exhibitors.

Economy slowly improving after years of trouble, Shapiro says.

8:51 am: Innovation is our secret sauce. It’s on our jeans. Oh, wait. No. It’s in our genes.

8:54 am: Faint applause as Shapiro makes a pitch for freeing up more of the wireless spectrum for broadband and other uses.

He notes that only 10 percent of TV is now consumed over the public airwaves, as opposed to 100 percent some years ago.

“They are squatting now on our broadband future,” Shapiro says of the TV industry.

8:56 am: Now showing a propoganda video on how some in Washington are threatening innovation.

Images of burning money and cute little kids as the announcer offers up more scary talk.

8:59 am: It’s a pitch for the CEA’s Innovation Movement.

Shapiro now back and pitching his new book: “The Comeback.” He’ll be signing books after the keynote. Um, Mobilized would, but we have to do our hair.

9:01 am: Interesting stat: By 2014, CEA says 70 percent of consumer electronics will connect to the Internet.

9:04 am: CEA is planning some sort of tech week event next summer in New York.

9:04 am: Las Vegas Convention Center will now also be known as the Las Vegas World Trade Center. (I guess that sounds better than the O.J. Simpson Coliseum.)

9:07 am: Shapiro finally introducing Verizon’s Seidenberg.

Seidenberg began his career as cable splitter’s assistant at New York Telephone.

9:08 am: Another video, this one with stars, and voiceovers of people talking about technology.

9:10 am: Seidenberg takes the stage.

9:11 am: Seidenberg begins by telling crowd to ignore ban on wireless.

“When Verizon’s on, turn ’em on,” he says. “Ping all you want.” Loud applause

9:13 am: Ten years ago only one in three Americans had a cellphone. Now it is 90 percent, Seidenberg says.

Ten years ago, few people had broadband–now 85 million American households have broadband.

Ten years ago, video accounted for less than 10 percent of Internet traffic. Now it’s more than half and could go to 90 percent, Seidenberg says.

Now it’s time to turn the wheel again, he says. “What will consumers want in 10 years?”

9:15 am: Seidenberg is joined on the stage by president and COO Lowell McAdam.

9:16 am: Talk shifts to Verizon’s new LTE (Long Term Evolution) higher-speed 4G network. Verizon announced its commitment to LTE in 2007. Network launched last month.

“As people are discovering, not all 4G is created equally,” McAdam says, touting the advantages of Verizon’s network, such as the fact it operates on a contiguous area of spectrum.

McAdam talks about how Verizon is expanding its LTE lineup beyond laptop cards. He mentions the Motorola Droid Bionic smartphone and Xoom tablet that were announced on Wednesday. But, he says, people will have to go to Verizon Wireless’s press conference to see the other devices coming this year,

Now McAdam is talking about FiOS, which covers 15.4 million homes and will cover 18 million when finished over the next year.

“We didn’t do all this for bragging rights,” McAdam says. “We did it to transform the (broadband) experience.”

9:25 am: Oooh, Time for special guests.

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner CEO is the first guest.

9:26 am: Bewkes says this is the second golden era of television. “Everything is up,” he says, pointing to ratings, advertising and more.

All of the great TV content, he says, is going on demand, on every device. Quality is going up from HD to 3-D.

9:31 am: Getting ready for the product announcement.

Starts with a video of Conan and other Time Warner stars watching clips of themselves and others on various devices. Charles Barkley is looking at hoops video on an iPad.

Ellen DeGeneres is watching clips of herself on a cellphone while ignoring a guest.

9:34 am: Bewkes talking about TV Everywhere.

Idea, introduced about 18 months ago, is that once you pay for a piece of content, you should have it anywhere, on any device.

“You shouldn’t have to have a PhD as a consumer to figure out how to get all this,” Bewkes says.

9:38 am: Bewkes says that to replicate TV everywhere without that approach you would have to cobble together dozens of services. He shows a chart with logos including Netflix, iTunes, ESPN 3 and a whole bunch more.

9:40 am: Exit Bewkes. Welcome Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha. (So I guess we’re not getting anything new really on TV everywhere–Support for Live TV is a key missing component.)

9:42 am: Jha is talking about the origins of the original Droid and its successors, and the growth of Android.

Jha holds up the just-introduced Droid Bionic phone, which supports Verizon.

I call this device the end of waiting,” Jha says, noting it can offer video conferencing without jitters, and fast sound downloads.

9:44 am: Next Jha holds up the Motorola Xoom, the tablet that Motorola showed off yesterday. They are playing the same Android 3.0 video shown at Motorola’s press conference yesterday.

9:47 am: Jha says that Xoom will ship as a 3G device in February and will be upgradeable to 4G in the second quarter.

Now Google is onstage giving an overview of Honeycomb. Google executive (whose name I didn’t catch) says that the company spent a year trying to adapt Android for tablets.

“We wanted our tablet experience to be better and not just bigger,” says the Google guy,

All the controls in Honeycomb are virtual buttons on screen–pixels rather than paint, he quips.

The benefit is such buttons can reconfigure themselves and shift depending on how the tablet is being held.

9:51 am: Now Google demos tabbed browsing in Honeycomb. “It’s really like a desktop experience,” he says.

Gmail has been redesigned for tablets, resembling the iOS version of Yahoo mail, with various panes.

Maps turn to 3-D once you zoom in close enough and can be rotated and the perspective changed with the swipe of a finger.

Notifications now include a photo of the person. Demo guy gets a message from Andy Rubin reminding him to show the improved task manager feature.

9:56 am: Honeycomb version of YouTube shows a 3-D wall of different videos to watch.

Books presented in a similar 3-D carousel.

9:57 am: Video chat part of Google Chat. Sometimes you want face-to-face communication, Google guy says. Now Honeycomb supports that.

10:03 am: Things are starting to wrap up, with McAdam giving an overview of what Verizon has at its booth, including a Cisco enterprise tablet, health care monitoring tools, as well as its crop of phones and laptop cards.

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