Super Mobility Week's success will depend upon member support

Sue Marek

Next week is the debut of Super Mobility Week, CTIA's merger of its two annual trade shows into one "super" wireless industry event. The event will be held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas and also coincides with the Competitive Carriers' Association annual conference, which is being held down the street at the Cosmopolitan. The two associations have joined forces and are allowing attendees of either show to attend both conferences using one badge.

In addition, CTIA has partnered with conference groups like 4G World, which previously hosted its show in Chicago in the fall, to become a part of Super Mobility Week. The goal is to further enhance Super Mobility Week content and make Las Vegas a one-stop shop for all things mobile.

CTIA should be commended for its Super Mobility Week efforts. The association made the change after listening to its members, many of which had been complaining for the past few years about the difficulty of managing three major wireless events in the first quarter of the year. The Consumer Electronics Show is always held in January in Las Vegas and has become an increasingly important wireless event for device makers and operators. Likewise, many North American companies now exhibit and send employees to the Mobile World Congress trade show in February in Barcelona, Spain. That left companies scrambling with little budget and manpower left for CTIA's annual spring show, which typically was held in March.

However, Super Mobility Week's success is dependent upon support from CTIA members and the entire North American wireless industry. While it's not surprising that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), which has never had much of a presence at wireless industry confabs, decided to announce its newest iPhone on Sept. 9, the opening day of Super Mobility Week, the announcement is likely to have a huge impact on how much news coverage SMW events will garner that day.

Super Mobility Week will have the support of major operators like Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T). Top executives from both operators are keynoting on Day 1 and Day 2 of the show. Former Sprint (NYSE: S) CEO Dan Hesse was initially on the keynote agenda, however he was removed after being let go by Sprint in early August. New Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure is not currently on the agenda.

However, noticeably absent from the keynote agenda is T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS)--a major Tier 1 wireless operator and a key CTIA member. In the past, T-Mobile executives have participated in CTIA panels and keynote events, but this year T-Mobile CEO John Legere is not among the operator CEOs expected on stage during the keynotes. I queried CTIA CEO Meredith Baker about this a few weeks ago and her response was that she'd love to Legere on the keynote stage and that CTIA welcomes all operators.

But clearly T-Mobile has decided to go a different route. On Friday I received an invitation to T-Mobile's latest "UnCarrier 7.0" news event, to be held in San Francisco Sept. 10. The operator is clearly trying to upstage its peers that are participating in Super Mobility Week. Not really a surprising move for T-Mobile, which is thriving in its upstart role. However, the operator has co-located its uncarrier news events at major trade shows before. At CES 2014 in January, the T-Mobile team announced the operator would pay up to $650 in early termination fees to for customers who wanted to switch to T-Mobile from another operator.

T-Mobile hasn't responded to my question about why they aren't announcing Uncarrier 7.0 at Super Mobility Week.

When I asked CTIA about T-Mobile's plans, Rob Mesirow, CTIA's vice president of operations, said the group is pleased that there will be so much attention on the mobile industry during that week, even if it's not all occurring at Super Mobility Week. "We think all the attention on mobility Sept. 9, 10 and 11 across the world will help promote this remarkable industry, which is the objective of our Super Mobility Week event," he said, adding that with the support of all the largest carriers, including T-Mobile and a number of other companies in the mobile ecosystem, there will be a lot of great wireless news from Vegas.

Of course, there's little CTIA can say or do one week prior to the show. But it will be interesting to see how well the revamped show fares in terms of coverage with so many mobile events occurring outside of Las Vegas that week.

But for partners like the CCA, the co-location with SMW is an advantage. According to CCA President Steve Berry, who spoke with FierceWireless editor Phil Goldstein last week, the group is expecting thousands of attendees at its conference. "I think we're going to have probably one of the largest on-site registration groups that we've ever had, mainly because of CTIA and the fact that if you buy a CCA ticket you get into CTIA for free," Berry said, adding that he is "looking forward to a very healthy traffic of new faces," because of the co-located events.

As always the Fierce editorial team will be bringing you coverage from Super Mobility Week and all the events that occurring next week. I'll be at the show along with Tammy Parker, Phil Goldstein and Mike Dano. Check out our coverage in the newsletter and in FierceWireless:Tech and on the CTIA Live web site here.  I look forward to seeing you in Vegas next week. --Sue