RealTime IT News

Mixing Content, 3G in The Big Easy

NEW ORLEANS -- With carriers activating third-generation networks, mobile broadband adoption largely depends on how compelling and reliable new voice, data and video services are.

At the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) 2005 trade show which begins here today, companies are out to prove that consumers will pay a monthly premium for their offerings -- and they're out in force.

"Square feet of exhibit space grew by approximately 20 percent, or 25,000 square feet, from the 2004 event," Erin McGee, a CTIA spokeswoman, said. "The number of exhibitors has also increased by a solid 20 percent."

One factor in the jump is the arrival of non-wireless companies, McGee said. Photo giant Eastman Kodak and sports programmer ESPN are among those with a presence at this year's show.

The companies are seeking new ways to deliver their services and content. ESPN already has a deal to provide news and feature clips for Verizon Wireless' new Vcast service. Verizon Wireless is expected to announce some additional partners for Vcast this week.

In addition, wireless network and device equipment makers will be on hand to demonstrate technology that delivers this content to phones and handhelds.

The company's offering delivers 24 frames of video per second on 3G and Wi-Fi networks, eliminating concerns about transmission fits and starts that once hampered wireless video transmission.

While streaming multimedia will be prevalent at CTIA, John Malloy, co-founder and managing general partner of BlueRun Ventures (formerly Nokia Venture Partners), expects to see continued momentum in less flashy segments, including custom ring-back tones for consumers.

And 2005 could be the year that location-based services finally break through. "It's been a long time coming," Malloy said. "But we're seeing that the applications are there and the networks are there."

Besides a chance for companies to showcase the latest offerings, CTIA gives industry executives a platform to discuss their visions for the industry or to provide updates on new product lines.

Delivering addresses at the show are CEOs or top managers from Eastman Kodak, Disney Media Networks, Samsung, Sybase, Nortel, Ericsson, Alcatel, Lucent, Sprint, Alltel, Cingular and T-Mobile USA.

This year's show also includes special exhibits that highlight promising new wireless segments, including home networking and entertainment.

Attendees can stroll through a 7,000 square foot model home that will provide interactive demonstrations of how a family can communicate via voice, video, instant messaging, message boards and alerts over a variety of devices and access methods.

Or, for CTIA visitors who often find themselves stuck in traffic, there's @Road's "mobile Wi-Fi hotspot" technology van. The vehicle shows how wireless technology can be integrated into vehicles to boost productivity.

There will also be a breakout conference on the impact of Radio Frequency Identification on wireless commerce and future mobile devices. Among the topics discussed will be advances in RFID tags/readers embedded in mobile handsets and what that might mean for mobile commerce.

Finally, CTIA will bring back its Mobile Entertainment Expo (MEX) to the show floor. The MEX debuted last year and is dedicated to the latest in mobile entertainment services, consumer products and accessories. For example, it will have a runway where models will show the latest in wearable wireless devices.