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2007 Top Ten: Wireless Stories

This has been a groundbreaking and tumultuous year in the wireless industry. The last 12 months have seen the growing dominance of tech companies like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), the potential for breaking down the cellular "walled garden" in the U.S., the fading of the citywide mesh wireless dreams, and much more.

Join us as we run down the biggest topics in the wireless industry this year.

10. Cisco goes WiMax
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) had been one of the last networking holdouts against WiMax, with ex-CTO Charlie Giancarlo famously claiming the business case for WiMax was "not compelling" in November 2004. The networking giant finally started to change its tune this year. (See Cisco Reconsiders WiMax.)

Unstrung exclusively revealed that Cisco was courting WiMax vendors in September of this year, with Navini Networks Inc. one of the potential targets. The firm bought Navini in October for $330 million. (See Cisco Wooing WiMax Vendors?, Cisco May Snap Up Navini , and Cisco Buys Navini for $330M.)

9. Rural takeover
If 2005 and 2006 were the years when major U.S. carriers bulked up with national mergers, 2007 has been the year where the big players feasted on their country cousins. From AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s buyout of Dobson Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: DCEL) to Verizon Wireless 's acquisition of Rural Cellular Corp. (Nasdaq: RCCC), the largest operators in the country have decided to spend billions to add capacity outside their major city markets in 2007. (See T-Mobile to Buy SunCom for $2.4B, AT&T to Buy Dobson for $5.1B, and Verizon Ropes Rural Cellular .)

One rural-related merger that didn't get resolved this year is the on/off dance between low-cost carriers Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) and MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS). Market chatter about a potential deal, however, isn't dying down. (See More Leap-MetroPCS Rumors.)

8. Emerging markets
Mobile equipment vendors have been talking up the prospects of emerging telecom markets for years now. In 2007, however, markets in India, Africa, China, and Eastern Europe have really started to develop as the most important new source of revenue for carriers and vendors, with more than half the world's cellular subscribers hailing from these areas. (See Top 10 Emerging Mobile Markets .)

It is not sheer numbers alone, however, that is making African, Indian, and other markets interesting. The lack of wired infrastructure has given wireless operators in these countries a clean slate to work with new technology such as mobile payments and WiMax. (See BSNL Plans $750M WiMax Splash.)

7. Carriers start to pick 4G technology
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) -backed long-term evolution (LTE) specification has started to emerge as the choice for fourth-generation networks for major carriers in the coming decade.

Verizon Wireless and its part-owner Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) are driving the charge for LTE as a de facto 4G standard. Both operators have this year said that they are testing LTE and planning to adopt the technology for post-2010 networks. (See Verizon Goes LTE.)

6. Muni dreams fade
2007 will go down, for many, as the year that citywide muni died. Cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia all either dropped or ran into problems with their ambitious targets for free citywide WiFi mesh networks. (See Unstrung's Top Five Wireless Turkeys.)

All hope is not entirely lost, however, as muni networks are still popular for goverment applications in smaller towns and cities, according to recent surveys. (See Mesh on the Up & Up?)

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lrmobile_Joe_average 12/5/2012 | 2:56:55 PM
re: 2007 Top Ten: Wireless Stories Not a bad list but I would have found a spot for Aruba's IPO. A nice positive item for your list.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 2:56:55 PM
re: 2007 Top Ten: Wireless Stories 10. Cisco goes WiMax
Giancarlo famously claiming the business case for WiMax was "not compelling" in November 2004.

"...and he is still right today! Navini was a stupid purchase."

2. Google's Android
"what a dud...SDK is crap...just noise -- what don't they make thier search databases/index "open" if they want to shake things up and believe in "open networks for the good of mankind (ala thier 700MHz BS)? Because they don't -- it is BS and people eat it up.

Should not hae made the list - much less at #2

1. The iPhone
"nice PDA - too bad they did not include 3G or EvDo - and release on a network that works - like Verizon instead of ATT no signal-hiss-click-drop network."

9. Rural takeover --> 1. Rural takeover
"More moeny changed hands here and more people were affected than any other item on the list."

6. Muni dreams fade --> 2. Muni dreams fade
"Such a fall from such great expectations warrant #2."

5. Sprint's WiMax tribulations --> 3. Sprint's Free-Fall and Misguided WiMax tribulations
"Messing up Nextel customer base and bleeding subs -- yet they are focused on building a $xxB WiMAX network -- insanity warrants a #3."

4. Motorola Implodes
"again bad news - but major = can they recover?"

8. Emerging markets --> 5. India Growth - China Saturation
"how many subs are being added in India daily? is China nearing subs saturation? Not sexy but huge."

6. WiBro (WiMAX) Fails in Korea
"SKT on-hold, KT moving slowly, KT had 24k subs in late-Jul - Yikes - now called YE target from 200k down to 100k. What happened, what does it say about the future of WiMAX?"

7. Carriers start to pick 4G technology
"LTE is the path by the Tier 1 carriers - WiMAX Mobile continues to have Certification and Product delivery delays - LTE is not looking that far out now. Major implications for the future of mobile, albeit it is still probably more a 2010+ story for LTE or WiMAX, but trends are being set."

8. Growth in Global Data Services/Revenue
"significant in 2007..."

9. New Ear of WiFi
"basically commoditized at consumer level, hoopla over WAN apps dead, Enterprise flattening, dearth of walking dead companies, etc. No excitement over 11N, etc.

1. The iPhone --> 10. The iPhone:
"Interesting more as a note in Apple's miracle rise from near death years ago to today's shining star on the back of iPod (ever checking into where that name orginated and for what type of product? and how it came to be applied to a music player?).

X. 700MHz
"really next years story, sure Google-crazy people wet thier pants over thier hype but lets see if they have any real plans of substance (unlike Android, crappy search progress, or a flurry of half-baked apps, etc.) in '08. The womanizing by Schmidt or billionaire smoozing by Pagehas been more interesting than any real services they have delivered in '07)."

X. Aruba IPO
"ho hum who care except for investors who cashed out? no one."
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