The Mobile World Congress put on by the GSM Association is where those in the cell phone business come together each year here in Barcelona. All the various players are here—buyers and sellers from carriers to basestation vendors, handset manufacturers, chip companies, software companies and anything in between. It is a real show, one of the largest in the world. Housed in eight enormous buildings in central Barcelona, it rivals other big electronic shows such as the CES in the U.S. While there may not be 100K+ people here, it feels like it (my best guess is well over 50K). It is crowded and very busy, but it is great to be able to see all the players in one place.
Just as a first glance, the big topics of discussion at this show are the 4G standard LTE, location, and mobile TV. I have seen several demos of LTE which is well under development at Freescale and several companies like it. Location technology is really hot with the GPS vendors and users are showing all sorts of variations. Then there is cell-phone TV. We are going to get this soon. The technology seems to work great, all we need is great content. And one more technology on display here is WiMAX. We don't ordinarily think of it as a cell phone technology but it will no doubt be used just like Wi-Fi. The highlight of Tuesday was my actually making a phone call on a WiMAX handset at the NextWave booth. Neat!
There is a lot more to see and report. Probably won't actually see much of Barcelona as the large crowds have caused many of us to stay well outside of the city. I am in Sitges, a beach village nearby. It is a charming place but forces us to take a long train and subway ride each day. That is not so bad considering the event, and I have only been lost three times. Not bad for me.
Photo: Lou Frenzel makes his first VoIP call with WiMAX at the NextWave Wireless booth.