GSM Association: U.S. becoming more important

The GSM Association's chairman, Craig Ehrlich sat down with FierceWireless to discuss the competitive position of HSPA, the need to foster mobile innovation outside of the big vendors and why the U.S. is fast becoming important to the wireless industry: mobile content.


There are plenty of new 4G technologies out there, including WiMAX and China's TD-SCDMA, which are beginning to see incremental increase, but "if you are a private equity group you better think two, three, four, five times about investing in these technologies, because when you come into the U.K., Taiwan, China you are going to have four or five HSPA carriers against you, and they have already established desired speeds and spectral efficiency," Ehrlich said. Governments around the world are providing licenses for WiMAX like Malaysia and the U.S. with Clearwire, while China is rolling out its own proprietary TD-SCDMA. We're not trying to stop these rollouts, not saying it's a bad thing but before you put billions of dollars into it, you better know where [HSPA] is going to be. China's major telecom companies will go through some consolidation with China Unicom ending up with a GSM network that will likely be allowed to advance to HSPA.

Mobile Innovation

The GSM Association has been connecting small, innovative players with carriers worldwide for the past two years with its Mobile Innovation Program, but the GSMA plans to expand this initiative. If you take a step back and look at the mobile industry, not just GSM players but all of it--you'll see that our R&D has evaporated in the last seven or eight years with the exception of Telecom Italia and NTT DoCoMo. The industry as a whole has become highly dependent, if not solely dependent, on the ten big vendors. Sometimes this has been for good and other times, bad, because they drove us to push too fast into a new technology: GPRS, WAP and the early 3G auctions are cases in point. This program will connect hundreds and hundreds of companies with venture capitalists, analysts and carriers in a setting similar to speed dating at our events in Asia and Europe as well as at standalone innovation events in the U.S. The GSMA can facilitate that contact and act as a first port of call.

Mobile entertainment

The GSMA is having a mobile content-focused event in New York City this Friday, which is set to be the first in a series of events from the GSMA focused on mobile entertainment. The 3GSM show in February included an entire hall dominated by mobile entertainment booths and there will be even more at the 3GSM Asia show in Macau. The 3GSM shows will get increasingly saturated with mobile entertainment news, companies and co-located events like the Sundance Mobile Film event and the Bollywood event in Barcelona last month. America will become more important to our industry, because everyone wants the content from the U.S. -Brian