Cannes do

To borrow a phrase from the auto business, the wireless industry seems to be running on all pistons. The news out of last week’s 3GSM show in Cannes, France, seemed upbeat overall, despite the standard stories of:

Don’t get too excited about next-generation services until industry can deliver them properly;

Handsets are always delayed; and

Wireless networks set up at conferences are intended to show off industry’s capabilities but always end up falling short; technical glitches are just a slice of life.

Now, on to the good news:

1) More than 30,000 people attended the 3GSM conference. That in and of itself is a good sign for industry. Companies are loosening travel budgets.

2) Innovative devices, once they become available, will enable industry to better match enterprise wireless needs. Nokia is teaming with IBM to target the enterprise space, and Motorola is partnering with Microsoft for some advanced smart phones also.

3) In the infrastructure biz, antennas and chips have been developed that enable carriers more flexibility with deployments. Manufacturers are finally combining various technologies that one day will allow some seamless operating between disparate networks. Your GSM antenna today can still be used next year to deliver UMTS signals. Comverse demonstrated multimedia-messaging interoperability between GSM and CDMA networks. Nokia introduced a device that will allow people to travel between Wi-Fi networks and wide area cellular networks. Interoperability is sounding more real every day.

It may be too soon to say all is well, but the industry is starting to deliver on promises of seamless, worldwide integration between various networks.

Content is being addressed via billing systems that can tackle the confusing prospect of who gets paid what during a complex equation where the operator, content company and clearinghouse all have a stake in the transaction.

The marketplace is teeming with ideas. And this year, it sounds like the ideas actually become software, hardware, products and services.

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