If you’ve been in the wireless industry as long as I have you may recall the last time CTIA’s spring convention was in Orlando, FL. It was March 2002 and the country was still reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy. The economy was in recovery, the tech bubble had burst and many wireless firms were struggling to stay afloat. Mobile entertainment was called “m-entertainment” and consisted mainly of simple games on handsets. Verizon was testing 1xEV-DO in San Diego and Cingular had decided to upgrade its network from GPRS to EDGE.
Fast forward to March 2007. The wireless industry is in quite a different position. Mobile entertainment now encompasses everything from multiplayer games to over-the-air downloads and real-time broadcast TV to the handset. Verizon has deployed a nationwide 1xEV-DO network and is nearly complete with its upgrade to1xEV-DO Rev. A. Cingular Wireless is changing its name back to AT&T and its network has progressed from GPRS to EDGE to UMTS/HSDPA.
But like years past, CTIA will again be a place for companies to showcase the latest wireless technologies. One way CTIA is honing this message is through its Wireless Building in Hall D. An extension of CTIA’s Wireless House, the CTIA Wireless Building features 8,000 square feet of wireless enterprise solutions, next-generation products and technology. The building features a retail sales floor, executive offices and an apartment next door. The back of the Wireless Building is the stage where the keynote addresses will take place. Rob Mesirow, vice president, operations at CTIA, says that he believes that having the keynotes take place on the back of the wireless building will help give the enterprise space the attention it deserves right now. “We are definitely entering the era of the enterprise. This is a big deal,” Mesirow said.
The association is bringing back its Emerging Technology Awards for a second year. Mesirow says the awards have been expanded and the association has received more than 250 entries. Convention-goers can check out the entries in Hall C and vote for their favorites by sending a corresponding short code to 868464. On Wednesday the winners will be revealed during the Emerging Technology Awards Ceremony.
Of course not everything has changed that dramatically over the past five years. Once again Orlando seems to be a draw for former world leaders. In 2002, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was a keynote speaker. This year, CTIA plays host to two former presidents during the day three keynote: George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. -Sue
P.S. On a lighter note, be sure to stop by the FierceWireless networking event on Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Destiny Nightclub. This event always attracts some of the heavy-hitters in the industry. I’ll be there along with my colleagues Brian Dolan, Jason Ankeny and Lynnette Luna. RSVP Here.