Wireless is running both hot and cold these days. Much of the heat felt over here on the editorial side is emanating from CTIA Wireless 2007, a show slated for March 27-29 in Orlando, FL. The IMS category also continues to simmer.
As for the low temperatures, we could point to some cable operators who have been less than eager to talk about the Sprint/Nextel joint venture, as well as to another vendor in the wireless extension market that has shuttered its business. Orlando buzz One of our leader authors for CT Reports, Jim Barthold, will be heading to Orlando. Here’s how he answered my question about how the event seems to be shaping up: "CTIA = Insanity." (To subscribe to CT Reports, sign up here.)
There’s certainly a lot of pre-show buzz. Organizers are expecting 1,000 vendors and 40,000 attendees and calculate the overall wireless industry at $500 billion. A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (and ex Seattle Seahawks Pro-Bowler) Steve Largent heads the CTIA (aka "The Wireless Association"), and scheduled speakers on Day 3 of this event include former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
High profile speakers on Day 2 include the CEOs of Orange Group, Visa, Viacom and EMI. Day 1 sets more of the tech tone, featuring Microsoft SVP Pieter Knook and AT&T COO Randall Stephenson. Motorola CEO Ed Zander was scheduled as well but had to cancel.
Drilling further in the technology direction, we see a CTO roundtable and separate sessions devoted to location-based services, music, WiMAX, IMS, applications developers, mobile TV and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC).
No cable companies represented on any of those panels, but Sprint/Nextel appears twice, and although operators have been skittish to talk on these issues, WiMAX, IMS and FMC are certainly topics that MSOs are tracking. IMS Forum update Back in December, we alerted readers to the first in a series of so-called "Plugfests" hosted by the IMS Forum at the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory (IOL), a forum familiar to cable equipment vendors from the DOCSIS testing.
That interop came and went, with tests over some 15 platforms covering multi-domain VoIP calls, integrated SIP application servers with multiple IMS cores and home subscriber server (HSS) serviced by DIAMETER interfaces, with development work slated for accelerated IMS testing across a variety of platforms.
"We’re looking at it from the wireless, wireline and cable broadband, and a content delivery perspective," says Michael Khalilian, IMS Forum chairman and president. "Not just 3GPP, not CableLabs only, not ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) – but all of the above."
As for a further blurring of lines, IMS Forum board member Manuel Vexler confirmed something that we noted in our February issue IMS Roundup, namely that the enterprise or business services market is factoring into network exercises.
"We see that this hard wall between the consumer market and enterprise market is disappearing," Vexler says. "If you look at the value chain, it starts from inside the network – applications services at the server – and this is the focus of our interoperability."
The next IMS PlugFest is slated for June 4-8. Cold front On the cooler side of cable’s wireless activities, we have noted a hesitation among some – if not all – cable operators to speak about their ongoing FMC work.
This reluctance calls to mind nothing so much as one image used by several speakers at January’s SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies to describe the Spint/Nextel joint venture, namely "the Rubric’s cube." Interestingly, these speakers linked the attendant complexity more to business relations than to technology.
Another indicator is the announcement that wireless plant extension provider Arcwave has shuttered its business as of last Thursday. "Cable operators have been slow to pursue the commercial services segment where Arcwave’s products are applicable," writes Arcwave CEO and President Bill Sickler on the corporate Web site. – Jonathan Tombes