ISE magazine is taking its annual ISE EXPO conference and exhibition to Kansas City, MO, this year. The event, to be held August 29-31, 2023, at the Kansas City Convention Center, promises attendees an opportunity to learn from their peers and develop strategies to keep pace with the rapid evolution of customer requirements and network technology options.
“Network transformation is obviously critical to broadband service providers– everything from fiber to cell densification to even preparation for 6G is at the root of what we do,” explains Sharon Vollman, editor of ISE magazine and program chair for ISE EXPO. “So we help network providers learn the best practices, find the latest technologies, and experience the greatest thought leadership for our segment of the industry.”
Peer to peer
Vollman and the rest of the show organizers expect to build on last year’s verified attendance of more than 2000. Those who make the trip will see an emphasis on peer-to-peer instruction. Early arrivals can hit the links in the morning of Tuesday, August 29, at an official golf outing, then return for a three-hour “Help Close the Digital Divide—FTTx Outside Plant Design Training Session” at 1 PM.
But the learning begins in earnest Wednesday, August 30, with the first set of sessions at 8:00 AM. This year’s conference schedule has six tracks, an increase from last year’s four. They include:
- 5G Mobile Infrastructure Evolution
- FTTx/Optical Networks
- Construction & Engineering/BEAD & Middle Mile Network
- Network Reliability & Maintenance/Testing/Security/Damage Prevention/Safety
- Talent & Leadership Training/DEI/Professional Development/Upskilling/Workforce Solutions.
Power becomes its own track this year, paired with sustainability. The Talent & Leadership Training/DEI/Professional Development/Upskilling/Workforce Solutions track also is new.
A highlight among the morning sessions on Wednesday will be the Women in Telecom (WIT) Panel Discussion moderated by Janice Oliva, the group publisher of Endeavor Business Media’s Digital Infrastructure Group (which includes ISE and Lightwave). As this issue goes to press, scheduled panelists include:
- Katy Greenfield, vice president, customer solutions, Americas at Telstra
- Karin Strub, vice president, communications at Infrastructure Resources
- Emily McGinn, senior vice president, service delivery at Windstream Enterprise
- Beth Hannan, global product and technology leader at Meta
- Kim Hartwell, senior vice president and chief commercial officer at Corning Optical Communications.
Another early session of note will be “Opportunities for Applying Digital Technologies to Fiber Network Construction Projects,” in which Cabling Installation & Maintenance Chief Editor Patrick McLaughlin will deliver the results of a survey of service providers on installation challenges as well as moderate a panel discussion on how digital technologies can address these pain points.The early set of sessions will set the stage for the day’s opening keynote, which ISE is calling a “Fiberside Chat” at 10:30 AM with three executives from broadband service provider Brightspeed. The panelists, who will include Chief Administration Officer Chris Creager, COO Tom Maguire, and CEO Bob Mudge, will share the company’s experiences with expanding the 17-state fiber footprint Brightspeed’s backers acquired from Lumen in 2022. The discussion will include adding to the workforce, navigating vendor relationships, and sharing the speakers' expectations for working within the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
Wednesday’s programming concludes with three hours of sessions that begin at 1:00 PM. The planned topics cover a wide range, from esports as a rural telecom recruitment tool to WiFi 6.0 to BEAD strategies to several sessions related to fiber broadband network deployment.
Thursday, August 31, closely models the previous day’s slate. The conference again begins with morning sessions, from 8:00 to 10:15 AM. Attendees will see continued variety among the session options, with speakers offering insights on addressing multiple dwelling units (MDUs), managing service-level agreements (SLAs), troubleshooting FTTH networks, the use of GIS to aid deployments, and more. The conference program closes with a series of TED Talk-style “Tech Talks” on solving network challenges from 10:30 to 11:30 AM. Scheduled speakers include:
- John Amundson, director of planning and implementation at TDS Telecom
- Brian Bond, chief, operations support and innovation at Brightspeed
- Charlie Cano, CEO/general manager at Etex Telephone Cooperative
- Ashley Travers, director of core network engineering at Verizon.
When not in a session or keynote, an attendee is likely to find plenty to see on the exhibition floor, which will open at 11:30 AM on both Wednesday, August 30, and Thursday, August 31. Lunch will be served at noon in the exhibit hall both days as well. Each day also will host a special event – a Networking Happy Hour on Wednesday from 3:00 to 5:00 PM and a prize drawing on Thursday right before the show officially closes at 3 PM. The show organizers expect more than 180 companies will display the latest technologies in the exhibit hall.
Both days also will feature the popular show floor Demo Zone, opening Wednesday and Thursday at 1:30 PM and running until 3:30 on August 30 and 2:30 PM on August 31. As the name implies, the zone will feature select companies who will have 30 minutes to show off some of their technology and services.
Other special events include the first Network Innovators Awards breakfast, during which honorees within ISE’s inaugural technology review program will receive their awards, and the exclusive Executive Roundtable program at 8:30 AM Thursday morning.
Whether they receive it via attending a session, viewing an exhibit floor demonstration, listening to a keynote, or just talking to peers in the hallways, attendee education remains the focus of ISE EXPO, Vollman asserts. “It's an interesting thing being an educational show,” she says. “Our panelists are also attendees. So it's really important for us to have the service providers offer some education – so other service providers, whether they're small, medium, or large, can learn from the leaders and share the solutions that they use so attendees can do their jobs better.”
STEPHEN HARDY is editorial director of Lightwave.