CTIA 2010

This year’s CTIA Wireless show, March 23-25, in Las Vegas, promises to be bigger than ever. CTIA claims to be “one of the largest technology events in the world” and this year marks the 25th year of the show.

CTIA used to be mainly about the radio access network, but now the world is flat. Internet Protocol carries the signal on “4G” networks.

Apple pretty much changed everything. The success of the iPhone and the App Store stimulated the development of smartphones, open source software, and mobile apps from Google and Nokia. The mobile phone is becoming a mobile internet computer and the world’s 6.6 billion people are rapidly becoming interconnected. With broadband.

“Fourth-generation” networks are the big story in Las Vegas. Information Week says Verizon will unveil more details of its LTE strategy, and will make an announcement with VOIP specialist Skype at CTIA.

Clearwire today announced new cities launching 4G service in 2010, including: Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City, with additional cities to be announced later this year. Clearwire previously announced it will launch service in Houston in the coming weeks. Other new 4G markets scheduled to launch in 2010 include: New York City, Houston, Boston, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Denver, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The majority will launch toward the end of the year.

Of course “4G” doesn’t mean much without high capacity backhaul. Currently most carriers use 4-6 T-1 lines (at 1.5 Mbps each) to connect mobile towers to the internet. Backhaul was a big theme, too.

Some of the announcements so far:

LTE is the shiny new thing. But LTE’s price, speed and popularity have yet to be proven on the 700 MHz band. It requires new infrastructure, backhaul and devices.

The Clearwire network in Las Vegas is currently supported by roughly 250 cell towers, with another 100 or so being built. Clearwire WiMAX is available in 27 cities, with major cities launching this year. Clearwire began Baltimore service in October of 2008 and expects 1.2 million WiMAX subscribers by the end of 2010.

Strategy Analytics forecasts the US will have around 20 million LTE subscriptions by end of 2012, with an additional 6 million mobile WiMAX subs – about 25% of the global total of 4G subscriptions. Verizon currently has zero LTE subscribers.

Additional CTIA coverage is available at Connected Planet, Light Reading, X Change, RCR Wireless, Network World, C/Net, TMCNet, Engadget and Gizmodo.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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