Wireless broadband, mobile TV and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are key themes at this year's CITA (Cellular Telecommunication and Internet Association) Wireless conference, held in Las Vegas on April 5-7, according to analyst Informa Telecoms & Media.
"Ask anyone in the industry the hottest topics for 2006, everyone will say 'Mobile TV'", says Nick Lane, Principal Analyst at Informa.
Although Digital Mobile Broadcast (DMB) will be the technology of choice in a number of markets worldwide for the next couple of years, Qualcomm's MediaFLO solution and Modea's DVB-H will both figure large in Las Vegas. However, Lane adds that mobile music should also not be forgotten as full track downloads are taking just 30 seconds or less on 3G networks.
"As an industry, it's only natural to look to the next big thing, but it is the consumers that we must consider at all times as ultimately, they determine what's successful" says Lane.
In early February 2006, U.S. operator Sprint Nextel disclosed that its Sprint Music Store had reached a milestone, with 1 million track downloads since the service launched on Oct. 24, 2005. And the U.S. market is gaining competition as MVNO Amp'd takes on the heavyweight Apple iTunes with its 99c full-track dual-delivered (handset & PC) music download model. Operator Verizon Wireless is pushing a similar full-track service, charging 99c for PC-downloaded songs and $1.99 for dual-delivery to a handset and PC.
"The MVNO business is developing quite differently in the United States than it has in other markets" notes Tammy Parker, Principal Analyst-North America. "The U.S. is seeing the rise of a host of brand- and content-driven MVNOs targeting a variety of customer niches. Recently-launched examples include Amp'd and Mobile ESPN. Other MVNOs launching imminently include Helio and Disney Mobile, with Disney Mobile officially announcing its new service on Wednesday at the CTIA event."
Despite the continued excitement around applications and services, it is worth remembering that update of such services goes hand-in-hand hand with high speed access.
"The momentum is towards ever-increasing speeds and ever-increasing complexity," says Informa Principal Analyst Gavin Patterson.
Cingular Wireless is expected to announce further plans for its rollout of HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), while Sprint Nextel last week announced plans to start offering 1xEV-DO Revision A (which increases the data speeds and capacity of existing EV-DO or wireless radio broadband networks) in Q1 2007. With the evolution to Rev. A, users will experience faster downloads, and uploads that are up to 10 times faster. Sprint Nextel also plans to launch what it calls '4G' services in the 2.5GHz band by 2008-09, and could reveal more details at CTIA.