Archive by Kevin Fitchard

CTIA attendance down 15%

CTIA Wireless this year attendance fell 15%, but the number of exhibitors held steady as the bad US economy spared not even the king of wireless industry trade shows. Total attendance fell from 40,000 in 2008 to 34,000 this year, and the number of booths remained about the same at 1000, though CTIA saw dips in both categories between 2007 and 2008.

“We expected attendance would be down from last year due to the current economic conditions,” CTIA said in a statement today. “We heard from several attendees and exhibitors that floor traffic was steady and meetings were extremely effective because key decision makers were in attendance.” more

Cox preps for 3G build

Cox is outsourcing the design and construction of its new 3G network to Berliner Communications Inc. (BCI), a service vendor that has been advising operators and building wireless networks for 14 years. BCI will help Cox with the unique task of building a CDMA network at 700 MHz, licenses that Cox won at last year’s FCC auction. more

I-feature: Making the moldable phone

Do you design a single device for all occasions or create a separate device to meet the needs of each occasion? That’s a question that’s been confounding phone makers for the last half decade. As our phones become more powerful, they become capable of usurping the functions of other devices: mobile music players, laptops, navigation systems, even television. The phone may be capable of performing these feats, but viewing video, composing a PowerPoint presentation or mapping a crosstown route on a 4-inch screen isn’t necessarily practical or even comfortable.

The subject of the two most recent interactive feature elements is the evolution of the mobile phone and its interface: a feature outlining Texas Instrument’s plans to evolve the mobile phone into a central repository for computing, content and multimedia; and a podcast with The Astonishing Tribe founder Hampus Jakobsson on the how the device user interface will expand beyond the physical constraints of the screen and keypad. more

Palm prepares to say goodbye to epynomous OS

Whether it was triggered by anticipation of Palm’s new OS or the upcoming demise of the old one, Palm’s handest sales took a nose-dive in the last quarter. The company sold 482,000 smartphones in the three months ending Feb. 27, almost half of the number sold last year, while device revenues dropped 72%. Though not exactly the kind of numbers any company wants to see, they were largely expected as Palm prepares to sunset the Palm OS, replacing it with its new Linux-based operating system sometime this year. more

ABI: Tough 2009 awaits wireless vendors

Wireless infrastructure vendors may not get a pass in this recession like some had predicted. ABI Research has released new market data this week that projects the global radio access market to contract by 6% this year, falling to $49 billion.

In January, Ericsson CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg proclaimed that the mobile equipment industry was not in telecom crisis, though other equipment sectors–particularly handsets–were feeling the pinch. Despite the battered economy and dried-up capital markets, Svanberg said, mobile operators were still investing in their networks. Motorola’s Q4 network revenues seemed to back up Ericsson’s claims, largely on the strength of Moto’s WiMAX sales, but Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks weren’t so rosy in their predictions. Even Ericsson’s positive outlook was clouded by the 5000 layoffs. more

Comcast eyeing WiMAX in Portland

Comcast apparently won’t be waiting for Clearwire’s nationwide WiMAX rollout to launch mobile broadband services. Comcast chief operating officer Stephen Burke told the Oregonian that Comcast will exercise its wholesale agreement with Clearwire by midyear, using its WiMAX network in Portland to offer a wireless counterpart to its cable broadband services in that market.

Comcast invested $1.05 billion, almost 1/3 of the $3.2 billion infusion into Clearwire as part of its deal with Sprint, Google, Intel and cable operators. Much of those funds will be used to build Clearwire’s WiMAX footprint to at least 8 new markets this year, and it’s probably not coincidental that many of the named markets so far are Comcast market. Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas and Altlanta are all Comcast markets scheduled to receive the Clear service this year. Clearwire’s other live market, Baltimore, is also in the Comcast footprint. more

Broadcom patent suit against Qualcomm dismissed

While Broadcom has had a recent run of favorable results in its ongoing intellectual property war with Qualcomm, it’s luck ran out today. A federal judge in San Diego dismissed one of Broadcom’s many suits against the mobile chip maker–this one claiming that Qualcomm’s patents were exhausted and therefore unenforceable.

Broadcom filed the suit in October, claiming that Qualcomm misused its vast patent portfolio in CDMA and other wireless technologies to “double recover” royalties from licensees. Qualcomm not only sells Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chips that go into CDMA and W-CDMA handsets, it licenses to those manufacturers the core intellectual property used to power them. But Broadcom alleged that by selling the chip Qualcomm is exhausting its patent rights, and that Qualcomm’s licensing practices amount to double-charging the industry for the same technology. more

I-feature: Readers respond

As promised, a key component of Telephony’s new Interactive Feature is reader participation, and I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the comments our readers have made on our current I-feature topic, the future of mobility. The comments haven’t exactly been pouring in, several of them have been quite astute, though with a slightly cynical bent.

In response to Sprint’s McGuire on Frolicking in the Social Grass, a story about the interconnected world envisioned by Sprint’s startegy VP Russ McGuire, Tim responded with a detailed description of how the same technologies could be used for what is essentially cyberstalking: more

I-Feature: Nuanced speech and building a cross-industry app

Two new items have been posted on the Interactive Feature page, which this month focuses on the future of wireless. The first is a podcast with Nuance Communication’s chief scientist Vlad Sejnoha about the possibility of speech being used not just as a primary means of interfacing with the device but as a much more intuitive interface. The second is a news story from Mobile World Congress on Alcatel-Lucent’s new NG Connect program.

Though neither item would appear obviously related to the network of the future–at least not as obviously as our first piece detailing Ericsson CTO HÃ¥kan Eriksson’s reimagined wireless topology–I think both offer an interesting perspective on how we will develop and interact with applications in the future. NG Connect is an intiative of the present, but it’s one that clearly focuses on the problems of developing the next generation of applications. Today we face a crisis of integration: We have all of the building blocks in place necessary to wirelessly connect cars, to remotely link doctors to hospitals or create self-updating digital advertising networks, yet those sorts of applications don’t readily exist today. As Alcatel-Lucent vice president of emerging technology Derek Kuhn explains it, the wireless industry has always worked separately from the industries it intends to connect. The building blocks may have been in place, but only in a few case have the industries that own the individual pieces put them together in a substantive way. NG Connect is an initial attempt to rectify that problem by pairing telecom vendors up with their counterparts in other industries.

Speech recognition is one technology that has been integrated with wireless for some time, but according to Vlad Sejnoha we’re just seeing the beginning. As speech interface algorthms and the artificial intelligence behind them grow more powerful, so grows the need to develop alternative ways to interface with the device. Nuance isn’t just developing better speech recognition, though, it’s tackling the problem of context and intuition. Sejnoha believes that we won’t just be verbalizing commands that would normally be typed or clicked on a screen; rather we’ll merely be conversing with our phones. more

Introducing the Telephony Interactive Feature

Today we’re introducing a new concept on TelephonyOnline.com: The interactive feature. We are going to be asking you, our readers, to participate in the research we are conducting for major upcoming Web and print stories. We want to get your input, and in many cases, to make that input a central element our feature coverage.

We’re very proud of our feature coverage — Telephony is one of the few publications in an increasingly online world that can devote the space in print to explore topics in depth. But we also want to use our online resources to publish information in a timely fashion, and find out what you want or need to read. Today’s print cover features are both the beginning and the culmination of our coverage on a topic—many weeks of interviews, research and exploration summed up in a 2000-to-5000 word piece. And then it’s onto the next feature. more

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