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Monday, April 3, 2006 - Page updated at 11:43 AM

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Wireless convention lures media giants to Las Vegas

Seattle Times technology reporter

More than 35,000 people are expected to gather in Las Vegas this week to learn what the hottest technologies and trends are in the wireless industry.

The three-day convention called CTIA Wireless 2006 kicks off Wednesday at the convention center with nearly 1,000 exhibitors expected.

This year's conference focuses on entertainment with a lot of media companies in attendance.

CTIA Wireless 2006


CTIA, the U.S. Wireless association, hosts an annual convention bringing together carriers, operators and other players from within the industry.

Facts: Almost 1,000 exhibitors are expected to attract more than 35,000 attendees from 90 countries.

Keynotes include: Time Warner Cable's CEO Glenn Britt; Sprint Nextel's COO Len Lauer; Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin; NTT DoCoMo's Masao Nakamura; Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila; PayPal's President Jeff Jordan; Black Entertainment Television CEO Debra Lee and MTV Network President Van Toffler.

Local companies participating: T-Mobile USA, RadioFrame Networks, SNAPin, Wireless Services, InfoSpace, UIEvolution, MSNBC.com, Junxion Box, Airbiquity, RealNetworks, Action Engine, Medio Systems, Volantis, Microsoft, Inrix, Qpass, M:Metrics, Mophone.

The emphasis highlights how far the industry has come from historically relying on news from wireless operators and network equipment vendors to attracting the attention of some of the largest media companies in the world.

Keynote speakers include Time Warner Cable's Chief Executive Glenn Britt, Black Entertainment Television CEO Debra Lee and MTV Network President Van Toffler. Redmond-based MSNBC.com, a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal News, said it was going in a business capacity for the first time.

Other local companies attending include: T-Mobile USA, SNAPin, Wireless Services, InfoSpace, UIEvolution, Junxion Box, Airbiquity, RealNetworks, Action Engine, Medio Systems, Volantis, Microsoft, Inrix, Qpass, Intrinsyc, M:Metrics and Mophone.

Many of them are expected to make announcements. For example, Bellevue-based RadioFrame Networks is expected to announce today a partnership with Nokia to resell its miniature cellphone towers.

The firm, started by ex-McCaw Communications executives, has been plugging away at building its technology since 1999. Its product, called "S-Series IP Picocell Base Transceiver Station," allows carriers to extend coverage easily from a cell tower into office buildings or homes where signals aren't available.

The cell, which was unveiled in February at 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, is expected to persuade people to "cut the cord" now that there is good indoor coverage.

Jeff Brown, RadioFrame president and CEO, said then carriers will be able to use the box to offer new calling plans. For instance, at home, carriers could offer users all-they-can-eat minutes for only $10 more a month. Compared with the $20 or $30 a month landline bill, that becomes attractive.

The current product is about the size of a thin textbook. A smaller and cheaper version is expected to be available shortly. The box still requires a way to backhaul the voice traffic — for instance with DSL or cable.

Nokia, which is based in Helsinki, Finland, is expected to help resell and distribute the product to carriers.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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