3G Americas Analyst Summit in Dallas

3G Americas Analyst Summit in Dallas

Yesterday, I was invited to attend the 3G Americas Analyst Summit in Dallas hosted by 3G Americas. The discussions were around LTE, future applications and services, infrastructure requirements, femtocell, and so on and so forth. Who’s who of the industry were present to take on questions from the analysts. Though I am not your typical analyst (who publishes paid reports), my consulting work requires me to stay ahead of the curve a few years out, so the interaction with the industry participants was useful.

T-Mobile, ATT, America Movil, Rogers, and C&W laid out plans for 2011 LTE introduction with trials starting in 2009. Spectrum could be an issue for TMO which might use 1900 as a backup. WiMax seen as a niche if at all relevant technology for mobile access, its role might get relegated for backhaul and fixed access.

I think given the current economic climate, we might see the investment plans being delayed. Of course, with one city launch, some folks can claim LTE launch but pervasive availability will be pushed to 2013 and beyond. I think operators will try to milk HSPA technologies for as long as they can.

Had interesting conversations regarding T-Mobile upcoming open apps models. It has the potential to be really disruptive. Essentially, it shifts the onus on the developer, time to market shrinks drastically, developer can pick and choose the devices they want to support, they will get daily feeds on how they are doing with sales and customer complaints, bad apples are thrown out or charged fee per violation, better performers can exceed 70% rev share. Played a bit with Google phone and while aesthetically it is nowhere close to an iPhone, functionally, it has some attractive functionality – search button, multiple apps running in the background, multiple idle screens, browser, keypad, etc are a plus. The initial response has been quite positive (though the reported 1.5M number is not accurate).

Successful implementation of this model will force other operators to change their  application strategy. Another fact was pretty clear. This business of “unlimited” data in its current incarnation is not sustainable. You have to be careful what you wish for. Mobile data usage is “here” thanks to smartphones and consumer awakening of what’s possible but I think the networks are not ready for a huge onslaught of data usage – esp. the kind of things we are used on the Internet like browsing, streaming, uploading, etc. – in large quantities. At some point, there will be enough users on a cell-tower that will start damaging the user experience. The incremental revenue doesn’t totally justify the investment required to support such a surge. So, what gives … we are likely to see more tiered data pricing and less emphasis on “unlimited” data.

Overall, the meetings helped validate some of the concepts and business models percolating in my head. You will see more of that come out in my posts in days ahead.

My thanks to Chris and Vicki for inviting me to the meeting (btw, if you haven’t been to the Gaylord Texan resort in Dallas, i would recommend it, it is like a self-sustaining city in itself – just like Texas – massive)