By Sue Marek
Wireless trade group CTIA is hoping some star power as well as a new venue in Las Vegas will breathe new life into its annual CTIA Wireless 2013 trade show, which will take place May 21-23 at the Sands Convention Center.
CTIA's move to the Sands Convention Center is a departure from the Las Vegas Convention Center, which has been home to many past CTIA shows. As for the stars, actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher and entertainer Jennifer Lopez will deliver keynotes on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively.
According to CTIA, attendance at this year's event will likely be similar to the 2012 event, but the group declined to give a number.
While Lopez and Kutcher are worldwide entertainment stars, CTIA argues there is substance behind their marquee names. In an interview with FierceWireless, CTIA VP of Operations Rob Mesirow said that Kutcher is very engaged with the startup community and many developers are interested in his perspective. In addition, Lopez is looking to extend her brand to wireless and will talk about that plus participate on a panel with Verizon Wireless COO Marni Walden and Brighstar Chairman and CEO Marcelo Claure on the fast-growing Latino market.
Of course, noticeably missing from the CTIA lineup is the operator CEO panel--a key draw for many attendees. Mesirow said that is gone by request of the operators. "They felt like they were hogging the spotlight," Mesirow said. "They wanted instead to let their partners and those creating the innovation in the wireless space be in the spotlight."
Nevertheless, there will some international operators appearing at the show, including José María Álvarez-Pallete López, COO of Telefónica S.A., and Dr. Thomas Kiessling, chief product and innovation officer at Deutsche Telekom. Mesirow said that many international operators are looking to the North American market for help in creating their M2M businesses.
Besides the operator panel, the networking party is also gone from the show. Mesirow said that in Las Vegas, social events such as the networking party, which often featured live performances from a band, are difficult because there are so many distractions. "We felt like a big event that is produced by CTIA just gets in the way," he said.
Of course, CTIA is already looking ahead to the 2014 show. Next week's event will be CTIA's final hurrah in the spring before it moves its annual conference to the fall in 2014 for what it's billing as the Super Mobility Week. Mesirow said that more news on the 2014 Super Mobility Week will be revealed later this year.
As always, the FierceWireless team will be out in force at the show. Look for all our coverage in the newsletters and at our CTIALive page here. --Sue
P.S. FierceWireless will be hosting two breakfast panels next week. I'll be hosting a roundtable discussion on Tuesday morning with top technology experts such as AT&T's Kris Rinne, Ericsson's Vish Nandlall, Chris Pearson of 4G Americas and Sue Rudd with Strategy Analytics. In addition, my colleague Mike Dano will be moderating a breakfast Wednesday morning on the Internet of Things. His panel will feature AT&T's Chris Penrose, Verizon Wireless' Jim Wales, Raco Wireless' John Horn, Dave Matthews of NewAer and Joe Peterson of Novatel Wireless. To register, click here.