Partnership site aims to drive wireless

Social networking for wireless entrepreneurs isn't just about snagging venture capitalists

A social networking site aimed at the wireless industry is a sign of sustained growth, not a new technology bubble, according to its founders.

The Wireless Industry Partnership (WIP), launched this week, uses a Web site to connect potential business partners in wireless fields including Wi-Fi, WiMax, 3G and RFID.

"The wireless industry is approaching a tipping point, and will impact the lives of virtually everyone who uses technology of some kind," said Caroline Lewko, founder and chief executive of WIP.

Wireless markets are growing much faster than the overall telecoms industry, according to analyst predictions.

With funding available for wireless companies, and waves of hype surrounding technologies such as 3G, Wi-Fi and WiMax, the site — which costs $300 (£157) for full membership — sounds similar to efforts during the dot-com boom to pair up entrepreneurs with venture capitalists. But WIP is keen to dispel the comparison.

"WIP isn't just about linking entrepreneurs with technology and funding, although that is a major benefit to some members," said John Sidline of Mobility Public Relations, who is promoting the venture.

"It's primarily about creating marketplace efficiencies to bring new wireless technologies to market faster. That could mean a lot of different things such as finding channels for global distribution, or larger companies finding companies to either buy or license technologies so they don't have to build from scratch, or finding contractors or potential employees."

Mobility is a way of life and a real opportunity, say the founders."That kind of adoption precludes wireless from being a bubble," said Lewko, a former consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) who founded her first wireless innovation network in British Columbia in 2001. "Wireless is an industry that will explode, not a bubble that will burst," Sidline added.