Mobile community gears up for Mobile World Congress

Operators, vendors, developers and the media will descend on Barcelona for Mobile World Congress next week, where a slew of new products will be unveiled and announcements made

Tags: Spain
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By  George Bevir Published  February 11, 2010

Telecom operators, vendors, developers, analysts and the media - including - will descend on Barcelona, Spain for the biggest event in the mobile industry's calendar next week: Mobile World Congress.

Although the economic downturn has taken its toll on the telecoms industry over the past 12 months, Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer for the GSM Association, the trade body that organises the show, says he expects attendance to be in line with last year when some 47,000 people attended the four day event.

Last year, only one device, the HTC manufactured T-Mobile G1 was launched with the Google-backed mobile operating system Android at the event. That won't be the case this year, with Android having gained significant traction over the past 12 months with HTC, Samsung and Motorola all releasing devices that rely on the software stack and many more expected to be unveiled next week.

Google has been pushing hard into the mobile space, most recently with its Nexus One device, and the search giant will no doubt be looking to underline its mobile credentials  when chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt gives a keynote on Tuesday evening.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer will be hosting a press conference on Monday afternoon, where the software firm is expected to unveil the latest version of its own mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 7.

Nokia and LG are two notable absentees from this year's show, with neither manufacturer exhibiting at MWC (although they will have an off-campus presence). However, Blackberry manufacturer RIM says it will have its biggest ever stand at the show, reflecting a solid 12 months for sales of smartphones.

PC firm Acer was one of half a dozen computer manufacturers that revealed plans to enter the smartphone market at last year's MWC, and it seems as though the segment will continue to evolve with a handful of lower priced smartphones being unveiled.

The $99 handset from mobile email firm Synchronica is one such device that will be touted at the show, while another firm that wants a slice of the smartphone market, Anydata Corporation, will launch its own "low cost and affordable Windows Mobile smartphone" which it hopes will be snapped up by students and business users that currently favour mid-tier feature phones.

Data-hungy devices have given operators in the US and Europe a headache over the past year as they struggle to cope with the demand placed on their networks by smartphones and laptops using USB plug in devices.

With mobile broadband still in its infancy in the Middle East, network congestion has yet to become a serious problem for operators in the region, but as more people start using smartphones and the usage of USB devices increases it is likely to become an issue.

Firms such as Bridgewater Systems and Juniper Networks will be using MWC as a platform for their solutions to the problem of network congestion, while WiFi providers and femtocells manufacturers will also be using the show as an opportunity to demonstrate how their products can help ease the strain on networks.

And any talk of a need for increased bandwidth will give mobile infrastructure giants such as Ericsson, Motorola, Huawei, ZTE and Alcatel Lucent the perfect opportunity to build on last year's work by talking up the capabilities of their fourth generation, LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks.

3260 days ago

I'll be interested what Nokia Siemens Networks unveils about its LTE solutions...

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