Reflections on 3GSM--MediaFLO, WiMAX and LTE
My grueling trip home from 3GSM took me from Barcelona to Munich to Chicago and finally back home to Denver. During those 20-or-so hours on airplanes and in airports, I had a lot of time to reflect on the 3GSM World Congress. Like most people there, I spent my days running back and forth between press conferences, meetings, panels and of course, a few parties. Here's a rundown of what I thought were some of the highlights of the conference:
- Not just GSM. This once GSM-only conference has now morphed into a broader wireless event. Now the show floor is peppered with WiMAX firms touting their wares. CDMA-heavyweight Qualcomm had a huge presence at the event (it even sponsored the GSMA Gala Tuesday night and CEO Paul Jacobs gave a short welcome speech).
- WiMAX. There was lots of discussion about WiMAX and its potential. WiMAX proponents Sprint, Intel, Alvarion and others were touting this technology while GSM carriers were questioning the viability of WiMAX as a 4G technology. Nokia said that it would have a WiMAX device by the first half of 2008. For the latest on WiMAX deployment issues tune into our WiMAX Webinar on Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. EST. Click here to register.
- MediaFLO scored another big win. I was caught off-guard when I heard that AT&T had selected MediaFLO for its broadcast TV service. I'm a big fan of MediaFLO's services (I was the first U.S. reporter to visit the company's network operations center in San Diego last June), but I thought AT&T would shun the Qualcomm MediaFLO service in favor of a DVB-H service. Plus, I had heard from several analysts that Verizon had an exclusive deal with MediaFLO in the U.S. Undoubtedly this is a bad sign for DVB-H. If Hiwire or Modeo do not ink a carrier deal soon, I think we can forget about seeing DVB-H in the U.S.
- LTE. Long-term evolution was a big topic among carriers and vendors. But the time-frame for deployment of LTE remains in flux. AT&T CTO Kris Rinne said it would be 2011 or 2012 before LTE gets deployed because there is a lot of "energy" left in HSPA.
- Mobile entertainment slump. On Wednesday I wrote about how mobile entertainment adoption had plateaued and companies needed to focus on driving these services beyond the early adopters to the mass market. I received some notes from readers telling me about new developments in content discovery and pricing innovations. Interestingly, ABI Research released a report today saying that data-heavy mobile content services will be the key to operator's future success. We'll see if that rings true.
- iPhone. Apple's impending iPhone entered into every conversation with handset makers. Most said they welcomed the new entrant to this tough market. Sony Ericsson North America president Najmi Jarwala, says that his company was the first to bring credibility to the mobile phone as a music player with its W800 Walkman phone. The company plans to keep building traction in the music phone area with the new W880 version that just launched. Likewise, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said that while he expects Apple to stimulate the music phone market, the company needs to turn mind share into market share to have a real impact.
Let me know what you thought were some of the interesting trends coming out of 3GSM--Sue