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The U.S.'s Premier Wireless Event: CTIA 2008

Get up to speed on the latest cell-phone technology and products

If you are looking for a way to learn all the latest cell phone technologies and find out who is doing what in this dynamic field, the CTIA conference in Las Vegas April 1–3 is your best bet. While the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona is the largest cell phone show in the world, CTIA is the largest in the U.S. and is expected to have 40,000-plus attendees and over 1200 exhibitors. This is the larger show of the two CTIA puts on each year. If you want to immerse yourself in the cell phone business for a couple of days this is the place to be.

I am heading out to this conference to get an update on the technology and new products related to the design of cell phones and base stations. No magazine currently addresses the design and development of cell phone related equipment and systems, but I will be covering relevant topics in Electronic Design and Wireless Systems Design in future issues. A key topic is the progress of the adoption and roll out of 3G technology such as WCDMA and HSPA, as well as cdma2000 EV-DO and subsequent Revs A and B. I expect to hear more about the 4G technology long-term evolution (LTE) and WiMAX. Both of those technologies are moving ahead fast these days, especially WiMAX, which is already being deployed worldwide. The LTE standard being developed by 3GPP is expected to be finalized later this year with first deployments in 2009 or later. Think of what you can do with up to 100 Mb/s on your handset.

Inside The Clamshell
I’m also chomping at the bit to take a look at location based systems (LBS) technologies. LBS has been around for years and is still somewhat emerging. Many future cell-phone applications rely on location, making GPS and other tracking techniques immensely interesting. Mobile TV is finally on its way as well. Europe has already settled on DVB-H as its standard going forward. In the U.S., Qualcomm's MediaFLO seems to be the technology of choice for TV on your cell phone. Japan and Korea have their own standards. Anyway, it will be interesting to see when we might be getting this feature and just what kinds of content we will have access to. Other topics I plan to examine are Wi-Fi in cell phones, M2M, the latest operating systems and near field communications (NFC) “touch” technology. Finally, I hope to get a handle on what is happening with the so-called “open” cell phone movement and how the biggest bidders, AT&T and Verizon, plan to use the 700-MHz spectrum pitted between them.

There is so much going on at this show, it is hard to summarize it all. But here is glimpse of the activities.

  • Keynote talks by leading industry persons such as Steve Largent, CTIA's President and CEO; Robert Bach of Microsoft; Marco Boerries of Yahoo!; Dan Hesse the new Sprint Nextel CEO; Lowell McAdam of Verizon and Arun Sarin of Vodafone Group. The Infrastructure Roundtable made up of Simon Beresford-Wylie of Nokia, Patrica Russo of Alcatel Lucent, Carl-Henric Svanberg of Ericsson and Mike Zafirovski of Notrel will discuss the Path to 4G.
  • Abundant Pavilions in the exhibit area including the SmartPhone Summit, M2M Zone, M-tertainment, Testing Solutions, Tower Technology, VoIP and a slew of country pavilions.
  • Separate Tracks including Mobile Blueprint, Mobile Lifestyles, Mobile Customer-ization, as well as State and Federal Policy.
  • Dozens of special seminars.

Incidentally, the IEEE's Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC) is co-located with CTAI this year. It begins on March 31 and includes many in-depth sessions on all manner of wireless.

For more details on these two conferences, go to and And we’ll be rolling out news from the event, so stay check back with Electronic Design for daily reports from the conferences.

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