CTIA 2011 Preview: What to expect from the show

Sue MarekIt's been a very busy first quarter for the wireless industry. Following a flurry of device and network announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and the Mobile World Congress show in February, it's hard to imagine what could possibly be left to talk about next week in Orlando, Fla., at the CTIA Wireless 2011 conference.

It's no secret that there are number of wireless industry players unhappy with CTIA for hosting its annual confab in Orlando just one month after Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain--MWC is now the largest conference in the wireless industry with more than 60,000 attendees. Not surprisingly, CTIA has decided to move its annual conference to New Orleans in May 2012 to allow its members, exhibitors and participants to take advantage of the back-to-school product cycle as well as get closer to the holiday shopping season.

CTIA Vice President of Operations Rob Mesirow insists that attendance at next week's show is trending higher than in the past. He adds that the show is seeing a 40 percent increase in attendance from Latin America. "South America is significant in wireless. And we also pull heavily from the East Coast, New York and Wall Street when we move the show to Florida," he said.

What topic do you expect to dominate the CTIA Wireless 2011 show?Although key infrastructure vendor Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU) has decided not to exhibit at CTIA this year, Mesirow said the square footage of the exhibit hall in Orlando is bigger than the 2010 spring show in Las Vegas, and that the number of meeting rooms has also increased over 2010.

And you can be assured that there will still be a flurry of news coming from next week's conference. Mesirow says there will be several big announcements at the show, some of which will surprise attendees. Specifically, Mesirow pointed to the keynote address on Wednesday, March 23, by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, chairman and CEO of the Institute for Advanced Health, and chairman and CEO of the Healthcare Transformation Institute. Mesirow hinted that Soon-Shiong will make an announcement that will shock people. "It's a game changer," he said. 

But Soon-Shiong is not the only keynote speaker likely to make headlines at the show. Mesirow also said to expect Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and CEO of LightSquared, to provide some new details about LightSquared's planned wholesale LTE network with his keynote address, also scheduled for March 23.

For further insight into what to expect at the show, check out Fierce's full CTIA Wireless 2011 special report:

As always, the Fierce editorial team will be on the show floor, at the keynote sessions, in the media center and elsewhere bringing you all the latest news from CTIA. I'll be joined by my colleagues Lynnette Luna, Mike Dano, Phil Goldstein and Jason Ankeny. Look for some interesting executive interviews and a few surprise announcements in our newsletters and on our CTIALive microsite next week. --Sue

P.S. And if you are looking for a deeper dive into 4G in the U.S., be sure to register for the FierceWireless "Path to 4G" conference, which is collocated at the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show on March 22. I'm chairing the conference and I have some top speakers from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Sprint, Ericsson and more. We'll be talking about all aspects of 4G. Check out the agenda and register here.