CTIA's newly merged show will conflict with CCA's annual event in 2014

CTIA's new "super" wireless industry event that will debut Sept. 9-11, 2014, will be going head-to-head with the Competitive Carrier Association's annual event, which is scheduled on the same dates also in Las Vegas. The CTIA show will occur at the Sands Convention Center and the CCA event will be held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Although the CCA event is typically much smaller than the CTIA show, the trade association's conference has become more important with operators over the past few years. CCA has morphed from being a small trade group primarily dedicated to small, rural operators into a powerful lobbying association that champions wireless operators with fewer than 80 million subscribers--in other words, every U.S. operator except for AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ).

The conflicting shows will likely present a challenge for members of both associations. CCA's membership ranks now include Tier 1 operators such as Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA, as well as newcomer Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR). In addition, many of CCA's board members are also members of CTIA's board of directors, including Pat Riordan, the current CTIA chairman, and Mary Dillon, the president and CEO of U.S. Cellular and the vice chairman of CTIA.

Rob Mesirow, CTIA's vice president of operations and show director, said in a statement that the conflicting dates were unavoidable. "Due to the size of the CTIA show there are very few venues that are able to accommodate the event. CTIA chose our 2014 dates by working with our members, exhibitors and the Las Vegas Sands Expo Convention Center. This date was coordinated very carefully with our partners, which we will be announcing over the next few weeks and months," he said.

Nevertheless, some believe CTIA's decision to schedule its event at the same time as the CCA annual event was strategic and calculated. Steve Berry, president and CEO of the CCA, said in a statement: "It is very disappointing that CTIA has chosen to move its 2014 trade show to the exact same dates and location of CCA's 2014 Annual Convention. CCA's 2014 convention dates have been confirmed and public for two years, and it is hard to see how this is helpful to the industry, the competitive mobile ecosystem, and ultimately consumers. CCA's membership has grown significantly over the past few years, and our association has made great strides in the policy arena for competitive carriers. AT&T and Verizon--two of CTIA's largest carrier members--are not interested in promoting a healthy, competitive wireless industry and it would come as no surprise if this is an attempt to suppress competitive carriers to ensure their duopoly status."

In addition, many vendors, which are accustomed to exhibiting at both trade shows, will now be taxed with having to either choose one event over the other, or divide their teams between the two events. According to Damian Sazama, vice president of corporate and product marketing at Interop Technologies, his company will likely have to modify its plans to accommodate both events. "I'm disappointed that CTIA picked the same week in 2014 for its new consolidated tradeshow as the annual CCA tradeshow, which has been scheduled for two years. This scheduling will force some tough decisions at Interop. We have typically sent the same group of people to both CTIA and CCA tradeshows, and each event has a different objective. We will need to modify our plans," he said in a statement.

A similar scheduling conflict occurred in 2001. CTIA scheduled its Wireless IT show for Sept. 10-12, 2001, in San Diego--at the same time PCIA's GlobalXChange annual conference was scheduled in Los Angeles.

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