CTIA Preview: Economy to damper CTIA attendance?

The show floor and the session rooms at the International CTIA Wireless 2009 conference next week may feel a little bit less crowded than in the past. Thanks to the current economic woes, CTIA is anticipating a slight decline in attendance. However, expect those attending to be more focused on the business at hand. "I think there will be a concentration of people really interested in wireless who have been around for a long time and will be around for a long time to come," says Rob Mesirow, vice president of operations at CTIA. "The economy keeps the speculators out of the marketplace."

But Mesirow does expect international attendees to remain a key part of the mix. Last year 25 percent of those attending CTIA were from outside the U.S.  In addition, about 10 percent of the show floor is devoted to the international pavilions. "It's a global marketplace. You can't have a large and important wireless, mobile computing and Internet event without a global community," Mesirow adds.

The CTIA show, which comes just six weeks or so after the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, will likely have many of the same themes. Expect to hear discussions about LTE and WiMAX, Android and open operating systems and the latest craze: application stores.

But attendees should also expect to see more emphasis on a couple of wireless verticals--healthcare and smart energy. Mesirow says that the emphasis on these verticals is part of an important trend--the industry is not just about technology but about what the technology can do in all aspects of business and life.

Eric Topol, M.D., the director of Scripps Translational Science Institute and the chief academic officer at Scripps Health will be giving a keynote address April 2 and will be talking about advances in mobile healthcare. Mesirow said that heathcare is such an important trend that CTIA is planning to emphasize it at the spring show as well as the fall CTIA conference, which has typically focused on the different verticals.

Green technology and smart energy is another big theme. Former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore will be speaking April 3. You can also expect to see companies touting their green efforts--from energy saving base stations to environmentally friendly booth giveaways. Nokia Siemens will be handing out wildflower seed packets at their booth.  

The Fierce editorial team will bringing you all the latest news from the show. Check out all our coverage and photos (yep, we will be snapping away at all the parties)  on www.CTIAlive.com and in FierceWireless, FierceMobileContent, FierceBroadbandWireless and FierceDeveloper. Sign up for our special coverage here.  And be sure to check out our twitter feed for breaking news-- www.twitter.com/fiercewireless -- Sue