This year's CTIA looks somewhat less flashy to me, with few big name keynotes and no major technological topic. Sure, the exhibit hall is huge and number of attendees will probably be the record, again. Carriers are profitable, hansets are sexier than ever. Things are good in the industry. Right?
The less flashy nature of the show may be simply because of consolidation of the industry. There are less number of large customers, so less actual business is generated in the show.
But seeing what has been going on in Japan, where wireless market is more saturated, I can't help but feeling it is the beginning of the end of the great wireless standard era.
Wireless remain the center pillar of the carriers for sometime in the future, but it won't be the growth engine in the developed countries anymore. That is not just due to the low growth on the number of subscribers. It is also due to the lack of major cost structure breakthrough in the network.
Periods of telecom bonanza have been always supported by the technological revolution that drastically reduce the cost of network. At&t breakup and internet boom were made possible by the advancement of fiber optic, and this current wireless era by digital transition.
Now the voice capacity per spectrum has pretty much hit the ceiling, and the high speed data is not cheap enough to satisfy the web2.0 crowd.
It has been 10 years since digital one rate that marked the digital transition in the us, and it should be the time to move on, but no major cost breakthrough is in sight.
I may be just a pessimist. I hope so. But I may have to prepare myself for the coming change.