Last week, I attended CTIA, which was in New Orleans this year for the first time since 2005. It was nice to be back in the town that welcomes its guests by kicking off the show in style with a jazz band no less: New Orleans’ own Trombone Shorty.
But what were the real headlines of this year’s CTIA show?
First, let’s look at some of the US metrics and estimates presented by CTIA in the opening keynote:
- 332 million subscriber connections, a 105% penetration rate
- 295 million data-capable devices
- 111 million smartphone devices
- 123% increase in data usage from this time last year
- Carriers invested $25 billion in network infrastructure in 2011; $113 billion in the last five years
- There are 273,000 cell sites in the US
So the wireless industry is booming which was evident in the information provided above. However, some of the major roadblocks to continued success revolve around spectrum and the path to network convergence.
Spectrum: This was by far the most discussed topic at the show. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that US carriers are at 80% of capacity and that the freeing up of the airwaves is the number one issue in regards to satisfying network demands for increased data usage. Most of the leaders at the Carrier Roundtable discussion brought up the topic of spectrum. Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said the industry is at risk due to spectrum shortage.
User experience: In the analyst session I attended, Ericsson laid out its “seamless user experience everywhere” proposition.
- By 2015, 90% of the global internet traffic will be video. Tablet users are heavy users of video
- Mobile broadband (global usage) will increase from 90 million users today to five billion users by 2015
- 70% of iPhones toggle to Wi-Fi networks compared to Android-based smartphones at 30%, globally
The company spoke of using different network technologies to create the best user experience. This three-pronged approach will create richer coverage via a heterogeneous network (hetnets) that would:
- Improve capacity (by adding more spectrum efficiencies)
- Densify (with more strategically-placed cell sites)
- Add cells (via Wi-Fi and small pico cells)
Reuse and recycling:
Also, a theme this year at CTIA was that of reuse and recycling. A few key announcements from the show included:
- Clover Wireless (formerly The Wireless Source), a private label trade-in, buy-back and repair service for wireless devices announced a partnership with Cellebrite USA, a mobile forensic and mobile data transfer solution for the retail industry, to offer instant access to trade-in quotes for used wireless devices.
- The Device Renewal Forum (DRF) announced that ReCellular and Valutech Outsourcing joined the Device Renewal Forum’s (DRF) executive board. They join Brightstar, eRecyclingCorps, ModusLink Global Solutions, Sprint Nextel and the CDG in an attempt to “create a technology-agnostic ‘gold standard’ for refurbishing, testing and certifying renewed devices.”
- Separately, on Monday, May 7th, eRecyclingCorps announced it would acquire buyback vendor, FlipSwap. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Finally, the newest Chairman of CTIA, Patrick Riordan, (President & CEO, Cellcom) mentioned the importance of device reuse and recycling during his keynote address. As expected, Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse referenced the importance of sustainability in our industry during his roundtable speech.
Exhibit floor: changing of the guard
The exhibit floor seemed sparse given that there was no large, sprawling booth from Samsung. Also not present at CTIA 2012 was Research in Motion, Motorola, Google, and, of course, Apple.
However, HTC, ZTE, Kyocera, LG and Huawei represented the device OEMs as did newcomers like Plum and Unnecto. From a carrier perspective, AT&T was there demoing its Digital Life product, a remote monitoring and automation platform; while Verizon only had a small M2M booth.
Kate Pearce is a Research Strategist and Sr. Consultant at Compass Ingellience where she participates in custom consulting projects and develops content for the Device Reuse and Recycling subscription and other device-related research. You can contact Kate at email@example.com