Despite exhibitor defections, OFC fiber-optic event pushes forward

Feb. 27, 2020
The organizers of OFC repeated February 26 that the show will be held as scheduled March 8-12. The event planners say they are taking several steps to protect the health of participants.

In the wake of the cancellation of Mobile World Congress and the defection of several high-profile exhibitors due to coronavirus concerns, the organizers of OFC repeated February 26 that the show will be held as scheduled March 8-12. The event planners say they are taking several steps to protect the health of participants.

OFC is arguably the world’s most important conference and exposition devoted to optical communications technology, including technologies applicable to cable MSO networks. Nevertheless, as of Thursday morning, system houses Ciena, Fujitsu Network Communications and Infinera; component and module developers Acacia Communications and Lumentum; fiber can cabling supplier OFS; and test equipment vendor Viavi Solutions have announced that they have cancelled their participation plans. In addition, several Chinese companies previously planning to participate also have changed their minds, OFC organizers concede.

But the show must go on, they say. “We have heard from many exhibitors that they are committed to attend OFC and we thank them for their continued engagement. OFC Management respects the decision of exhibitors who decided to cancel their participation due to the impact of the Coronavirus and look forward to partnering with them in the future,” read a statement issued late in the day February 26.

“OFC Management is closely monitoring the ongoing potential impact to you (our attendees, exhibitors and vendors) and is following guidance from worldwide health organizations and experts. We are fully committed to taking appropriate precautions to provide a safe and healthy environment for all attendees,” the statement continued.

The organizers have created a coronavirus action plan page and a related FAQ on the show website to provide further information.

The lack of Chinese participation affects not only the exhibit floor but also the conference program, as several Chinese nationals were scheduled to make presentations. A source told sister website Lightwave that two major Chinese speakers, plenary speaker Qi Bi, president of the China Telecom Technology Innovation Center and CTO of the China Telecom Beijing Research Institute, and Chih-Lin I from China Mobile Communications Group, who is speaking as part of the Special Chairs’ Sessions, are already in the United States and prepared to attend. Show organizers hope to prerecord via videotape presentations from other Chinese speakers who aren’t so lucky for playback at the show. There is no word yet on whether a similar strategy will be used with speakers from Western technology vendors and other companies that decide not to attend.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated from the original to include Acacia Communications and OFS among companies that have withdrawn from the show.]

About the Author

Stephen Hardy | Editorial Director & Associate Publisher

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report, part of the Lighting & Technology Group at Endeavor Business Media. Stephen is responsible for establishing and executing editorial strategy across the both brands’ websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products. He has covered the fiber-optics space for more than 20 years, and communications and technology for more than 35 years. During his tenure, Lightwave has received awards from Folio: and the American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) for editorial excellence. Prior to joining Lightwave in 1997, Stephen worked for Telecommunications magazine and the Journal of Electronic Defense.

Stephen has moderated panels at numerous events, including the Optica Executive Forum, ECOC, and SCTE Cable-Tec Expo. He also is program director for the Lightwave Innovation Reviews and the Diamond Technology Reviews.

He has written numerous articles in all aspects of optical communications and fiber-optic networks, including fiber to the home (FTTH), PON, optical components, DWDM, fiber cables, packet optical transport, optical transceivers, lasers, fiber optic testing, DOCSIS technology, and more.

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