According to John Stanton, [chairman of venture capital firm Trilogy Partners], Apple’s “Steve Jobs wanted his own network that would use unlicensed spectrum rather than rely on mobile operators.” Steve Jobs wanted to replace carriers as a part of his vision, and he spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum.

Although Jobs gave up on his idea after around 2007, but he still managed to have a major impact on wireless operators, Stanton said. “If I were a carrier, I’d be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred” Jobs said.

Companies like Apple and Google, which develops Android, sell a variety of software and services that capture revenue streams that might have otherwise gone to the operators.

He advised operators to take some chances with new phones and services rather than invest too heavily in established offerings. Sprint, for instance, has been criticized for making a $15.5 billion four-year deal with Apple to sell the iPhone.

U.S. Cellular, however, has revealed that it decided that it would not be a good investment to similarly take on the iPhone.

When Stanton was head of Voicestream, the operator that became T-Mobile, his company invested in Danger, the company that invented the Sidekick and whose developers went on to build Android. It also had a small investment in Research In Motion.

“We had investments in those spaces because in part we were the little guy and we wanted access to unique devices,” he said. The Sidekick had a very dedicated following.

Stanton was the first employee at McCaw Cellular, the first nationwide mobile phone company that became AT&T Wireless. He later started Western Wireless, a rural mobile operator that started Voicestream, which was purchased by Deutsche Telekom to become T-Mobile. Western Wireless was purchased by Altel.


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