CCA 2013: M2M growth, 700 MHz interoperability discussions will dominate

Sue Marek

The timing of the 2013 Competitive Carriers Association annual conference, which kicks off Monday at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, is perfect for CCA members who are ready to celebrate their victory in the 700 MHz interoperability dispute.

In case you missed it, last week AT&T finally said it will support 700 MHz interoperability and begin adding Band Class 12-capable devices to its portfolio. Until this point, the company had adamantly refused to support Band Class 12, saying that it was unnecessary and would add costs to its devices.

The news is a huge win for Lower A Block licensees (and key CCA members) such as C Spire Wireless and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM), which have argued that they could not use all of their Lower A Block 700 MHz spectrum because equipment makers would not make devices to support Band Class 12 without first having commitments from larger Tier 1 operators.  

When I spoke with CCA President and CEO Steve Berry this week, he said that 700 MHz interoperability was the No. 1 policy issue for the CCA, and that this latest development means that the Lower A Block licensees will now be able to build their 700 MHz networks and develop roaming relationships with other operators.

Berry also praised Mignon Clyburn, acting chairwoman of the FCC, for her tireless efforts in getting AT&T to agree to support Band Class 12-capable devices. "She has been a strong advocate for competitive policy," Berry said. "She just decided to put her credibility on the line, roll her sleeves up and get in the middle of this disagreement."

Clyburn will be a featured keynote speaker at the CCA conference on Tuesday, Sept. 17. She will be joined by T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), CTO Neville Ray, Jeff Gordon, CEO of Syniverse, and Alcatel-Lucent's (NYSE:ALU) Michael Schabel, vice president of the company's wireless division. On Wednesday, the featured keynote speaker is Vish Nandlall, head of strategy, marketing and CTO of Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) North America. Immediately following Nandlall is the popular competitive carrier roundtable discussion featuring Doug Hutcheson of Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), James Hyde of Ntelos, Jonathan Foxman of MTPCS, Ron Smith of Bluegrass Cellular and Patrick Riordan of Cellcom.

Beyond 700 MHz interoperability, look for discussions on M2M and its growing potential to be a big draw for CCA members. Berry said that competitive carriers are interested in business models like M2M, which allow them to monetize their networks immediately--whether the networks are 2G, 3G or LTE.

I'll be exploring M2M business models in depth on Monday, Sept. 16, at 8 a.m. during the FierceWireless breakfast panel, "Building a Profitable M2M Business." My panelists will include T-Mobile's Rusty Lhamon, Numerex's Jeff Newman, Carolina West Wireless' Slayton Stewart, Vodafone's Mark Thirman and Sprint's Ben Vos.  

The panelists will be talking about the M2M opportunity and what it means for competitive carriers. We'll also discuss the revenue potential for this business and look at new M2M opportunities such as the connected car and mobile healthcare. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Nolita Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Check here for more information.

Besides hosting the breakfast, I'll be at the CCA providing coverage of the event. Check FierceWireless for my articles from the event here next week. --Sue

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