Wireless operators and vendors will be striking up many conversations today as the Competitive Carriers Association’s Mobile Carriers Show kicks off in Las Vegas. But while we can’t tell you who’s talking or what about this go around, we can give you a glimpse into how all those chats shake out into real action.
According to CEO Steven Berry, CCA runs a slew of industry development programs for its members that first come about as a result of discussions behind closed doors that center on the struggles small and rural carriers face in an ultra-competitive industry.
“The networking process of ‘What is it you want us to focus on, members’ we’ve sort of kept more of a close hold on because obviously we want (the carriers) to be open and honest about their challenges and they don’t want names associated with this carrier is having difficulty integrating this type of service of something like that,” Berry explained. “So it’s more of a non-public discussion, but the goal and the idea is to bring some transparency to the highest priorities within the association and share them with our members. And that’s one of the biggest benefits of being a CCA member.”
Berry said once these conversations establish prominent issues for smaller carriers, CCA will make resources available to its members to help solve the problems. These include customized online how-to videos addressing particular needs (for instance, to resolve certain handset issues or train staff on device lifecycle management) and connections with companies with solutions to help with things like locating and disabling stolen devices or ward off spam.
Perhaps two of the best examples of CCA’s behind the scenes conversations in action are the association’s data services hub and handset hub.
Berry said the data services hub – which is powered by Transaction Network Services and offers carriers strategic data and voice roaming capabilities across each others’ regions – first came about several years ago, but began to gain more steam toward the end of last year. The hub now includes more than a dozen carriers, with big names like T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular on the roster.
“The idea was let’s make sure the smaller carrier in rural America can provide a product that’s useful and can provide connectivity wherever you go,” Berry said.
The idea of a shared pool of resources is something Berry said CCA has also applied to handsets. CCA’s Device Hub, he said, helps smaller carriers gain access to the same premium devices nationwide carriers have in their lineup on the same timeline as the big dogs. First founded back in 2014 with Apkudo, Berry said Sprint recently came to the Device Hub table to make its portfolio of handsets available to CCA members at cost. CCA is also in talks with T-Mobile to see how they could contribute, especially on the GSM side of things.
So far, Berry said there are three carriers signed up for the hub, but he’s hoping it will soon attract more members.
“We’re looking forward to 4G LTE deployment scenarios and how do you get to a 5G and IoT world,” Berry said. “The key there is to have an ecosystem you’re part of – handsets, iPads, chips for everything for IoT. We need to figure out a way to get there.”