I was updating my list of wireless-related conferences, and here’s a short list of some conferences to consider attending that relate (in some way) to the use of wireless in the enterprise.

CES Although ostensibly targeted squarely at consumers, and of course almost a month in the past, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held January 7-10, 2008 in Las Vegas should be on a short list of conferences to attend when trying to keep up with trends of wireless in enterprises. From my readings, CES is the closest fit for the now-defunct Comdex, and many wireless trends that migrate to the enterprise first appear as consumer technologies. One primary example is the rise of 802.11n Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), which are just now starting to appear in enterprises. Other trends in evidence at CES were dual-mode wireless telephony / Wi-Fi phones, Wireless USB, all manner of Bluetooth devices, etc. CES 2009 will apparently be held January 8-11 and if you plan to attend… arrange for your hotel room now before Las Vegas is completely sold out.
Satellite 2008 If your enterprise uses satellite communications (and it’s likely that it does, somewhere), the biggest satellite conference I’m aware of is Satellite 2008, February 25-28, 2007 in Washington DC. Even in this era of broadband Internet access, leased lines, and often privately owned (purchased as “dark”) fiber, satellite communication is vital in far-flung enterprises because of its continental coverage. One reason satellite continues to be used is that it can provide a uniform, reliable communications link anywhere in North America, for a predictable price (as opposed to dealing with a myriad of telecommunications providers).
IWCE The same week, February 25-29, is the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas, Nevada. IWCE is the largest conference I’m aware of dealing with two-way radio (and associated systems) for both commercial and public safety. Many enterprises have decided to use Nextel in place of two-way radio, but as with satellite communications… two way radio systems are inevitably in use somewhere within your enterprise. IWCE is an incredible showcase of what’s possible in two-way radio systems – portables, base stations, complex networks integrating with other technologies such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), etc. One reason to attend IWCE is if your enterprise is “critical infrastructure” (such as a hospital, utility, etc.) and in an emergency your enterprise might need to interconnect with the radio system of public safety agencies.
CTIA Wireless CTIA Wireless 2008, held April 1-3, 2008 again in Las Vegas is the big event of the North American Wireless Telephony (Cellular / Mobile) industry. (By now, you’re probably detecting a trend about big wireless trade shows being held in Las Vegas.) If a product, service, company has anything to do with wireless telephony… or quite often other aspects of wireless communications, it’s on display at the annual CTIA Wireless conference. If you attend, bring comfortable shoes because you will do an incredible amount of walking – it’s one of those “monster” shows where there are a seemingly endless number of exhibit booths, and although sometimes painful, it’s often worth trekking to take a quick look at all of them to spot unique services, services, or systems that might make your enterprise more effective.
INTEROP Las Vegas, April 27-May 2, 2008 in… well, the title says it, is probably the conference most directly applicable to readers of Mobile and Wireless. INTEROP offers a Wireless and Mobility Track spanning three days, as well as a number of wireless-related Workshops on such topics as Mobile Security and Voice Over WLANs.
WiMAX World Americas Finally breaking the trend of conferences held in Las Vegas, WiMAX World Americas will be held September 30 – October 2, 2008 in Chicago. WiMAX will inevitably impact enterprises, beginning as early as 2009 when Clearwire and Sprint begin their first full year of “production” Mobile WiMAX networks and we’ll finally have some sense of what the differences are between Broadband Access over wireless telephony systems and Mobile WiMAX systems. While the CTIA conference is dominated (and badly) by voice applications, services, and retail, the focus of WiMAX World is data applications (with voice included as “just another application” – Voice Over Internet Protocol), primarily focused on service providers and system vendors. One key difference is that I expect to see a multitude of “widgets” – small devices that communicate over Mobile WiMAX; far more than we’ve seen to date for wireless telephony networks because of a combination of the (more) open standards of Mobile WiMAX, the faster speeds, and the stated “any device…” philosophy of Sprint for its Mobile WiMAX service. Of interest to enterprise Information Technology personnel, I’ve observed that “backhaul” systems vendors are very well-represented at WiMAX World, and thus it’s a good conference to compare wireless backhaul (which should be strongly considered in enterprise IT planning, if just for providing backup communications) solutions and systems.

Readers – please let us know in the comments what other conferences you find valuable for keeping track of enterprise wireless issues.