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54,500 turn out for Supercomm

While it seemed like standing room only at many of the events at Supercomm 2001, held June 3-7 at the Georgia World Congress Centre in Atlanta, conference organizers said attendance was only up two pe...


July 1, 2001  


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While it seemed like standing room only at many of the events at Supercomm 2001, held June 3-7 at the Georgia World Congress Centre in Atlanta, conference organizers said attendance was only up two per cent from last year. And while this seems like a reasonable increase, it was a rather disappointing attendance when you consider that the conference increased 20 per cent each year for the three years prior to 2000.

Yet despite the numbers — approximately 54,500 attendees — Supercomm, sponsored jointly by the United States Telecom Association (USTA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), seemed to be a successful show, from an attendee and exhibitor standpoint.

“If you want to see just how far the industry has come, you don’t have to look any futher than Supercomm itself,” said Edward E. Whitaker, Chairman and CEO of SBC Communications, during his keynote address. Mr. Whitaker noted that when he spoke at the conference five years ago in 1996, there were only 36,000 attendees.

Whitaker was among several big name speakers at the event, including Michael K. Powell, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who touched on several regulatory issues in his keynote address and spoke at length about the economy, trying to bolster the audience with promising words. Noting that in every publication he read recently, “there was a doom and gloom story about the state of the telecommunications industry and the market,” Powell asked the crowd if the naysayers are correct: “Should we chalk it all up as being too hard, too unrealistic, too complicated? Should we fold our cards and have a drink to our shattered dreams and laugh at our gullibility?”

“I want to stand up here today in defence of optimism,” said Powell, who noted that the fundamentals of the information revolution are still very much alive. He added that technological advances will continue to dazzle us and that innovators and entrepreneurs will find a way to meet consumer demand.

Approximately 850 such innovators and exhibitors (up from 756 in 2000) showcased their goods in more than 550,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Congress Centre and adjacent Georgia Dome (including 37 Canadian companies). Exhibitors showed off the latest communications technologies — from fiber to wireless. (Please see sidebar entitled “Making News at Supercomm”). A lot of the buzz centred around technolgies such as packet telephony, virtual private networks (VPNs), voice over IP, wireless LANs and customer relations management (CRM) solutions. Others were on hand to showcase the future with the latest in residential applications and some not yet ready-for-primetime Internet appliances.

“As you take in all of the “gee whiz” technology at Supercomm, contrast it to 30, 20, 10 years ago,” commented Dennis F. Strigl, Executive VP of Verizon Communications and president and CEO of Verizon Wireless in his keynote address. “You will realize we have travelled light years,”

Next year’s Supercomm show will be held in Atlanta from June 2-6 in the same venue.


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