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Smartphones, 4G to take center stage at CTIA

22 марта 2010

The wireless industry is expected to shed light on its move to faster network speeds and show off a wave of new smartphones at the CTIA Wireless trade show this week.

Industry executives and analysts are looking for additional details on the benefits--both financial and technological--of upgrading to fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless technology. Handset manufacturers, noting the exploding demand for smartphones, are expected to unveil several new devices.

"Hopefully, we'll start to see some energy build around 4G becoming a reality," said Omar Khan, chief strategy officer for Samsung Electonics Co.

CTIA, which annually has to contend with a wave of announcements already made at the Consumer Electronic Show and Mobile World Congress earlier in the year, was particularly hard hit last year amid the economic collapse. CTIA hopes to turn things around with some major news of its own when the show kicks off on Tuesday.

"We're all going to experience a different vibe this year," said Rob Mesirow, vice president of operations for the trade group.

Among the big announcements will be Sprint Nextel Corp.'s unveiling of the Supersonic, the first U.S. phone compatible with a 4G network, according to people familiar with the matter. The Supersonic, made by Taiwanese vendor HTC Corp., will run on a 4G network using WiMax technology, which Clearwire Corp. is building. Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse is expected to heavily push the benefits of 4G services.

The Supersonic will be one of many smartphones to be shown off at the show. Samsung, for instance, will talk about brighter and more vibrant screens and faster processors, according to Khan. Rival LG Electronics Inc. is expected to show off a number of phones as well. Many of the devices will run on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

"I think we'll have more Android coming down the pipe," said Roger Entner, an analyst at Nielsen.

Microsoft Corp., meanwhile, will show off a number of devices armed with its Windows Mobile Phone 7 Series operating system, which won't be sold until the holiday season.

Likewise, AT&T Inc. is expected to unveil a number of quick-messaging devices and smartphones, building upon a quartet of messaging phones it launched on Monday. The company is also expected to talk about new features in its U-Verse television platform.

Palm Inc., fresh off of a rough quarter in which it provided a dismal revenue forecast, is also expected to provide an update on its partnership with AT&T. The company's recent poor performance at Verizon Wireless, however, has many speculating that Palm and AT&T may be pushing back their smartphone launches.

Palm Chief Financial Officer Doug Jeffries said Thursday that there were no changes to its carrier launch plans.

Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, will spend a lot of time talking about the unsexy, but necessary, parts of a network buildout, mainly the infrastructure and parts of the network known as backhaul, which connects cellular towers with the carriers central network. The company is expected to launch a Skype service at the show. The partnership, which enable subscribers to use Skype on their cell phones, was previously announced at Mobile World Congress last month.

"We're really viewing CTIA as a backdrop to talk about momentum behind our [next-generation] network," Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said. The carrier is jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC.

The major telcos also will be talking about the changing business models that come with emerging devices, or non-cellphones that are able to tap into the cellular connections. The telcos will likely talk about wide-ranging products such as automated teller machines to portable video game units and the benefits of providing a mobile connection.

Building upon last year, there will be an increased number of smaller application developers at the show as programs and features nab some of the spotlight.

"CTIA is going away from a geek tech fest to becoming a consumer application show," Entner said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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