CCA to rename 2016 spring expo 'Mobile Carriers Show' in bid to expand audience

The Competitive Carriers Association, which is hosting its annual spring Global Expo conference next week in Atlanta, said that next year it will rename its show as the Mobile Carriers Show. CCA said the name change is intended to expand the roster of attendees and vendors at the show and push smaller carriers to more fully embrace new revenue opportunities that Tier 1 carriers have been exploring, including the connected car, home automation and the Internet of Things.

This year's CCA Global Expo takes place March 24-27 in Atlanta and next year CCA will host the Mobile Carriers Show in Nashville, Tenn., from April 13-15.

"We'd like to provide not only a carrier-centric focal point for our show but we'd also like to start including all of the things mobility has come to represent," he said.

Berry noted that CCA membership includes Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and smaller carriers. Collectively, these carriers serve well over 100 million Americans and spend around $15 billion annually on products and services related to the wireless industry. That should attract more than just carrier-centric network infrastructure vendors to CCA's show, Berry said, adding that the CCA wants to bring in more software-centric vendors, analytics and managed services companies, and application developers. "We would love to see a larger group of business, enterprise, consumers walking through the door," he said.

Additionally, as Tier 1 carriers embrace Network Functions Virtualization and Software-Defined Networking, they are going to make their networks more agile. That could create more competition for smaller carriers that have focused on tailoring their offerings to the needs and desires of local customers.

"Small carriers are going to have to be much faster at modifying their business models if they are going to be able to compete," Berry said.

Berry was vague on how CCA plans to expand vendor participation at the spring expo for next year, but said some strategies will include the speakers CCA will recruit. He also said that CCA will make case studies of some of its more "progressive" carrier members to highlight the work they are doing to enhance their networks and service offerings as a way to attract a wider audience.

Berry noted that 75 to 80 percent of CCA's associate members, which are companies that provide goods or services to competitive carriers, regularly show up at CCA's shows. However, he said that CCA's conferences have become "saturated" with vendors that focus on carrier-grade infrastructure solutions. He said the association needs to broaden its horizons.

Mobile healthcare is one area of huge potential, Berry said. "I think that's an area our carriers are just starting to understand they can play a significant role in," he noted. ChatMobility, a carrier based in Iowa, recently launched a telemedicine service in partnership with iSelecMD that lets customers and patients talk to a doctor and have medical tests performed remotely. Berry also said that connected farming is a potential opportunity, in terms of monitoring livestock or other farm animals or checking field conditions.

CTIA has tried to do something similar with its Super Mobility Week conference. Last year CTIA partnered with CCA, IFA (the huge annual consumer electronics trade show in Berlin), The Money Event (which focuses on mobile payments), 4G World, and the Tower & Small Cell Summit for its show, in an effort to widen its audience.

In terms of this year's show, Berry said the Atlanta expo will focus on policy issues small carriers are focused on, including the 600 MHz incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum scheduled to start in early 2016. The show will also focus on how small carriers can work with large enterprises like Coca-Cola and Home Depot. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will be on the CEO panel that Berry will moderate on March 26, and Berry said he expects they will talk about the incentive auction but also how small carriers can integrate new technologies like LTE Unlicensed and NFC into their networks.

FierceWireless will be hosting a breakfast panel on the incentive auction on March 25 at the conference.

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