ACG Research

ACG Research
We focus on the Why before the What

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CTIA Returns to Normalcy

CTIA 2012 marked a return to normalcy in some ways. Last year, the big news was the intended takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T with Sprint coming out guns blazing. This year was relatively sedate, at least until the keynote began, featuring the CEOs from the four leading US mobile operators. 

A newly resurgent T-Mobile, flush with $4B of AT&T’s money and some spectrum, returned to its preacquisition role as the agitator in the US market. Speaking just before AT&T’s CEO Ralph de la Vega on the Operator keynote, T-Mobile’s CEO Philipp Humm showed the commercial of a pokey motorcycle representing the iPhone on AT&T’s network getting blown away by a sleek cafĂ© racer representing T-Mobile’s 4G network. The intent was clear: T-Mobile is back. Regardless of the accuracy of the commercial (iPhones not being 4G devices), the US mobile market just got a lot more fun to watch.

The T-Mo resurgence also reopens the market for NSN to the tune of I estimate to be about $1B (ditto for Ericsson) to build out the LTE network. Lots of storylines here especially for NSN, which found itself outside looking in from an LTE (RAN) perspective.

With Service Provider Wi-Fi such a hot topic at MWC and Small Cells/HetNets similarly front and center at CTIA, for most of the vendors it is clear that SP Wi-Fi is quickly moving into the realm of the largest telecom vendors (ALU, Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei and NSN). Although early wins by BelAir and Ruckus provided needed momentum and drive, with BelAir now absorbed by Ericsson smaller providers such as Ruckus will likely be acquired or become access point OEMs (more likely the former than the latter). With the level of intelligence needed to operate seamless cellular/SP Wi-Fi networks, especially for any SON features and OSS/BSS interworking, we expect that operators will be less likely to operate truly heterogeneous networks in favor of their current cell model with different vendors targeting cities or areas of the network. This leaves the independent SP Wi-Fi vendor on the outside of these integrated network opportunities.

I am not sure what to expect from CTIA next year. AT&T showed us the digital home; ALU was missing; Nokia had only meeting rooms (but great meetings); and general (and unscientific) consensus is that the show is rapidly turning into a Tier 2/Tier 3 operator show with some of the Tier 1s providing some executive face time for the obligatory complaining about the lack of spectrum in the US. Show floor hours were painfully short (11:00–4:30, 11:00–5:00 and 9:30–2:00, respectively), squeezing meeting and demo time. 

Will I be there next year? Of course, as an analyst the meetings were great, but I would love to see the Tier 1 operators really duke it out on their network differentiators, service levels, customer experience management and performance.

To read more and download CTIA 2012 Wrap Market Impact, click here.

For more information about ACG Research's Mobile Infrastructure service, click here or contact

Chris Nicoll 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.