4G World Preview: Reality check - apps and back office are a priority

The question for network operators is no longer which technology is best--WiMAX or LTE--but which application will compel consumers and enterprises to upgrade to 4G. Will it be video? Or will it just be more bandwidth for the always-on, always-available wireless broadband connection that consumers have come to expect?

No one has a definitive answer to those questions, but expect topics such as 4G applications and the 4G business strategy to be hot at next week's 4G World conference in Chicago.

Hosted by Yankee Group's Trendsmedia division, the 4G World convention will incorporate both the WiMAX and LTE ecosystems as well as the application drivers into this one event. According to Eliot Weinman, president of events and publishing at the Yankee Group, said the company decided to combine its annual WiMAX World conference with its 4G Executive Summit and its Mobile Internet World conference to create one big event that encompasses several market trends. "We just realized that we needed to incorporate these events and co-locate Mobile Internet World," Weinman said. "It made no sense for people to come to an infrastructure show and then an app show a few months later."

Take one glance at the 4G World agenda and you will find plenty of operator involvement. Weinman said that the company has 35 mobile operators worldwide participating in the conference, and also will have several speakers from cable companies. "The cable guys are investing in wireless now," Weinman said.

Of course, you can expect some of the old WiMAX vs. LTE debates from the past to be rehashed at next week's event. Is WiMAX just a niche play? Will LTE be deployed quickly enough to offset the head-start by WiMAX players such as Clearwire? According to Shahid Ahmed, a partner for network technology service line at Accenture, those types of arguments never get old. "These technology debates resurface every 10 years or so," Ahmed said. Nevertheless, most of Accenture's customers are less focused on the technology and more focused on 4G backhaul capacity requirements as well as the necessary OSS/BSS architecture. "Do you need an OSS/BSS stack in a 4G world? Those are the types of questions we are hearing today from our clients," Ahmed said.

At 4G World, Ahmed will be speaking about mobile Internet and applications Friday at 11 a.m. during the "Executive Roundtable: Enabling Mobile Internet Content and Applications" panel.

Although the economy is still struggling, Weinman said that Trendsmedia expects strong attendance at next week's event. "We are 10 percent ahead in registrations over last year," Weinman said.  Nevertheless, there have been some last minute cancellations. The annual Mobile Excellence Awards press conference will not be held at 4G World. Instead, the MEA will announce its 2009 finalists at the ShowStoppers event at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference in San Diego in October.

Look for all the latest news from 4G World in Chicago next week in FierceWireless and FierceMobileContent. The Fierce team will be on site covering the keynotes, panel sessions and meeting with the top executives. --Sue

4G World Preview:
Reality check - apps and back office are a priority
LTE applications, business models still up for debate
Sword of consolidation hangs over mobile WiMAX vendors
Backhaul to remain a challenge
Solving the femtocell dilemma