Many key Canadian and global industry players and influencers were in Calgary last month at the Wireless Connections 2005 conference. Many talked about the great things to come in the wireless industry. Andrew Seybold, one of the industry’s foremost analysts and commentators, provided his views on the future of the global wireless industry.  The following is an edited transcript of key parts of his keynote presentation on May 17.  First in all of the Americas there will not be a single wireless voice and data standard. We’re going to live with multiple standards, we have to expect to see wireless handsets and devices that will be capable of operating across various technologies, so it may seem like a seamless world as we get further into the future. The other important thing to understand is the technologies’ religious wars are over. Every network has chosen what they are going to use for 3G services, everybody’s ready to roll this stuff out and it all works.  There is no one single network that is all things to all people. There is no one technology that is better than the other technology all of the time in all of the places around the world. If you took all the 3G engineers in the world, put them in a room and said don’t come out until you have a single common standard that we could all use all over the world, they’d never come out of that room.  Here’s some headlines from 3GSM in Cannes France that I attended: the vendor showcase was IMS, IP Multimedia Subsystem and you’re going to hear more and more about it all the time. Chip makers were announcing huge advances in technology: Motorola announced a $40 GSM phone that they will have out by the end of the year. Not to be outdone Qualcomm said we’ll see your $40 and offer you a 3G $50 phone in a couple of years.  Attending the CTIA conference was different. Attendees may have wondered whether they accidentally stumbled over the consumer electronics shows, the marketing association show or the national association of broadcasters event. It was truly a different show. It was very little towers, structures and generators, and a lot more content and what’s going to happen in the future. The message I got from CTIA this year was content, not technology, is the key to success. When the first generation of the second generation networks were built they were built by the supplier. The network provider bought phones, put them on the network and we started using them.  The 3G networks had new partners from day one and those partners are content partners. Part of the rollout of a 3G network is not just is my network done, do I have devices to run on the network, but now do I have the content to attract the users to the third generation network? And it’s a huge difference and it’s something that’s important to understand. As far as interoperability – it’s the next big thing – whether it’s multimedia messaging or whether it’s push to talk or IP services, there’s a lot of this interoperability that’s becoming a big deal.  What does this all mean? First of all we know that converging industries, telecom and media, it’s been historically over-hyped. I think it’s being over-hyped again. But the cable operators are becoming MVNOs in the wireless business, the phone companies are once again for the third time saying we’re going to television over our wired circuits, the wireless networks are saying we have mobile TV. We can deliver this all to you and it’s going on and on and on. We’ll see what happens. Rapidly maturing Internet technologies, IP, IMS and SIP.  New industry dynamics such as mobile TV is a movement to Internet-like pricing, taking stationary content and moving it out into the mobile world. Then we had lots of new marketing segmentation and everybody’s headed for lower cost and churn, at least they hope. A little historical observation here: if the device is intuitive to use, that’s the best customer application. That’s one thing I think that a lot of people have lost sight of over the years and we’re beginning to come back to that. Most products still pass through enterprise adoption, now that’s changed a little bit with the camera phone. It’s changing a little bit with video phones and things like that but still most of the devices go through an early adoptive phase through the corporations and then back. The other thing is that people buy end-to-end solutions, they don’t buy technology. They don’t know a thing about the technology that we talk about everyday, and really they don’t care about it. They care about what the coverage is and what makes it work. So technology is not a sustainable competitive advantage. Running the network is really the easiest part of this whole business. The device is becoming the convergent point and that will continue. The mobile industry is impacting landline telecom in a number of ways. In the US, I don’t know what the numbers are here in Canada, but the latest number I heard is that upwards of 20% of all wireless users now in the United States no longer have a wired phone. And that number is going to grow. There’s an uncertainty in the evolution of the value chain. There’s need for flexible business partnerships and models, and that becomes more and more true as we get into more and more content related technologies.  There’s a bit rate race. Customers have high expectations, and networks are trying to deliver as many bits per second as they can across as little as spectrum as they can at the best cost they can.  Where are we heading?  First of all I think that the wireless market will evolve in many ways across a lot of verticals. The business of machine-to-machine, there are more machines in this world than there are people. This is a tremendous opportunity. Then of course you have the horizontal mass market, enterprise applications using mobile extensions, more than simple transport, with revenue sharing and partnerships. Mobile virtual network operators are a key going forward. They are very, very important part of this landscape.  So my conclusion for this part of the presentation is the future is bright, don’t bet against technology. Voice is still king and voice still pays the bills. About a month ago I had the pleasure to interview at a San Diego telecom event the president of NTT DoCoMo USA, and he made the following statement: he said of our 45 million customers, 80% of them use wireless data every day and that accounts for about 25% of our revenue. Think about that for a minute, 80% of their users and the data revenue lift is 20% to 25%. So we have to be aware that voice is going to continue to pay the bills. My other comment here is that industries that succeed become arrogant and that happens a lot and unfortunately it’s happened in this industry somewhat and collaboration is better than a zero sum game.  One of the pioneers of mobile computing and wireless data, Andrew Seybold is head of Andrew Seybold Group LLC, a consulting firm specializing in the connected mobility space where mobile computing and advanced communications technology meet. Seybold’s clients are all among the top companies in wireless. He is also president of Andrew Seybold’s Outlook 4Mobility, a parent company that produces an electronic weekly commentary on the wireless industry.