CTIA Wireless 2011: Mobilize Everything

By  Martha Walz — March 29, 2011

CTIA Wireless last week in Orlando was a whirlwind few days full of making new connections in the wireless world—both with people and with vendors in the space—as well as seeing new products and discussing emerging trends. All in all a great few days, with the take-home message being: mobilize everything.
 
I arrived in Orlando Monday night and went to the Hard Rock Live in the Universal Resort. Rugged device manufacturer Sonim and its distributor Quality One Wireless hosted an event for press, analysts, and other CTIA attendees. Bret Michaels, formerly of ’80s rock band Poison, put on a 40-minute show, and other celebrities such as New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain and reality TV star Kim Kardashian were also in attendance. I snapped a picture of Kim with Sonim’s VP of marketing, Sanjay, and I got my picture taken with Joba to make all of the Yankees fans here in north Jersey jealous. Sonim had one of their devices on display at the event encased in ice to show off its true rugged nature.
 
CEO roundtable
Day one of CTIA brought the opening keynote and carrier roundtable. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called on the industry to free up more wireless spectrum because “broadband is no longer a luxury.” The current wireless broadband adoption rate of 67% isn’t as high as it could and should be—and could have a negative impact on U.S. competitiveness in a global economy.
 
His comments were followed by a carrier roundtable, with the CEOs of the three major carriers answering questions from moderator Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s “Mad Money.” Wait, aren’t there four major carriers? There used to be. T-Mobile’s CEO, Philipp Humm, was not in attendance at the panel discussion, which came only two days after AT&T announced its intent to purchase T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom. And that was the topic of much discussion.
 
Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse expressed concerns that too much power in the hands of the top two remaining carriers—AT&T and Verizon—would stifle innovation.
 
President and CEO of Verizon Wireless, Dan Mead, stated that Verizon is very interested in what is going on with AT&T and T-Mobile but said that his company hadn’t looked into buying T-Mobile because it didn’t need to do so. Verizon is confident in its position in the market.
 
Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, defended the proposed merger by saying it would bring 4G LTE to 95% of Americans and will improve existing service by leveraging the spectrum and cell towers of the combined companies.
 
Aside from discussion of the merger, the CEOs were asked about various other wireless topics such as what is up and coming with 4G, traffic management and poor wireless service, the need for more spectrum that was referenced by Genachowski, and metering. Verizon is considering moving to tiered pricing, while Sprint will stay unlimited for now. But by and large, the focus was on the proposed merger.
 
Faces old and new 
For the rest of my time at CTIA, I met with several companies in the wireless space. What did I learn? M2M is the next big thing, and some companies that were traditionally PC- and consumer-centric are focusing on the mobile enterprise space.
 
The M2M market is growing rapidly. From fleet and asset tracking to POS to healthcare to education, M2M is enabling myriad technologies as the cost to deploy an M2M solution drops significantly. Mike Ueland, VP and GM at Telit, says that his company’s strategy is to make the process of putting wireless technology into a product less difficult. Telit’s M2M products that traditionally have used 2G standards are upgrading to 3G as costs of implementation are falling, and that is enabling technologies such as in-vehicle security and remote video. Ueland says that M2M is increasing the productivity of field workers, and that the Fortune 1000 is an untapped market for M2M.
 
In addition, new chips, such as those from Cinterion, are being pre-certified by network operators, eliminating one step from the M2M deployment process and making the technology even more appealing.
 
Janet Schijns, VP of the business solutions group at Verizon Wireless, says that process workers are not well served by traditional mobility solutions, but will benefit from M2M solutions, which help field workers make faster, better decisions, in turn saving time and money.
 
Wayne Ward, VP of the emerging solutions group at Sprint, agrees. With 110 M2M partners, Sprint is moving full speed ahead with M2M deployments, mobilizing “people, property, and pets.” With solutions for fixed wireless, portable wireless, and truly mobile applications, Ward sees the M2M market in an early growth stage that soon will be taking off. Everything will be mobilized.
 
Some new faces in the mobile enterprise space at CTIA include ContentWatch, AVG, and Samsung Mobile. ContentWatch is best known for its Net Nanny Web content filtering product. Its new offering, ContentProtect, is a filtering app for mobile devices that allows for other security features as well. AVG, well known for its PC-based anti-virus software, now has a mobile security offering, ANTIVIRUSFree for Android devices. It comes either as a free service, like its PC counterpart, or as a full paid version with added features. These two offerings indicate the increasing maturation of the mobility market, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.
 
Samsung Mobile is also making a big enterprise play. With its new GALAXY Tabs unveiled at CTIA, Samsung Mobile is making a push into the B2B market, with devices that are enterprise-ready. That means the devices have their own business-grade version of the Android operating system and that Samsung will work directly with enterprises to help them build proprietary app stores, according to Tim Wagner, VP/GM of B2B sales, Samsung. The company will also sell to and work directly with enterprises instead of just carriers as is its current business model. Wagner and his team will be helping enterprises to realize the benefits of mobile applications in their businesses and will start by targeting education, healthcare, and financial services in addition to the “standard” mobile professional.
 
It’s virtually impossible for one person to see and do everything at tradeshows as large as CTIA, so there are lots of things I didn’t get to do in Orlando—including test-driving all of the new devices and attending educational sessions. Complete coverage of the show can be found at the CTIA Wireless Web site, and I look forward to CTIA Enterprise and Applications, Oct. 11-13, in San Diego, for more mobile enterprise-focused developments.

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