Convergence Is Coming to CTIA

The annual wireless blowout that is the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) show moves back to its rightful home in New Orleans next week.

Unstrung is happy to report that we have been in intensive training for this prestigious show for weeks now. A grueling schedule that has largely consisted of consuming vast numbers of Hurricanes and picking out some really bad shirts to wear on Bourbon Street.

Oh, and we've been keeping our beady little eyes open for the news trends at the show as well. Here's what we've found so far:

Mesh Makes Out: Wireless LAN mesh networks could get bigger -- a lot bigger -- at the show. Startup BelAir Networks Inc. will announce plans to integrate its 802.11 technology with 3G cellular networks, presumably to enable voice-over-WLAN services.

Look out for major players making moves on the mesh market as well.

Convergence Cash In: There's going to be a lot of, ahem, backend action at the show, as vendors and carriers start to figure out strategies for implementing IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology so vital for convergence services.

IMS -- in case you don't know -- is a SIP-based control layer with interfaces to the transport layer below and the services layer above. IMS will enable applications like transferring a VOWLAN call to a cellular network, multimedia conferencing, and multiplayer gaming (see IP Multimedia Subsystems: Easy Does It). Softswitch startup BroadSoft Inc. is planning to roll its wireless IMS strategy at the show, among others. And its not impossible that some U.S. mobile operators will start to talk more about how they plan to approach this brave new world of convergence. Sprint Wireless (NYSE: PCS) is the only major operator so far that has talked up its IMS plans.

Device Duality: Unstrung will also be making a note of every dual-mode wireless LAN-cellular device on display, to see if -- as some fear -- there is a shortage of such devices, which could hold the market back (see Report Eyes Convergence Glitch).

And of course we'll be front and center for the pearls of wisdom that will doubtless be delivered at Sean "P. Diddy" Combs's keynote on day one of show.

Although, it could surely be argued that, after making headlines for her recent cellphone security mishaps, Paris Hilton really might have been a better celebrity for the CTIA to wheel on if it really wants to make such a naked bid for credibility.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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