FTTH Conference expands, expects record exhibitors

Sept. 1, 2005

Like the application space it serves, the FTTH Conference continues to grow. Now in its fourth year, the event moves to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Oct. 3-6. The FTTH Council, which sponsors the show, promises an expanded conference format plus a record number of exhibitors.

According to Jim Farmer, chief technical officer at Wave7 Optics and a spokesman for the FTTH Council, this year’s event will feature five tracks, up from last year’s four. The tracks cover case studies, business issues, plant engineering, technology, and “International/FTTH 101.” This last track combines papers that treat the basics of fiber to the home with presentations that describe how FTTH is progressing in countries outside of North America.

Farmer is particularly heartened by the number of case histories that were submitted for consideration. While the council had to “scrounge” for case histories over the past three years, the fact that such papers were comparatively plentiful highlight the progress FTTH technology has made in North America, he believes.

The fiber to the premises and node activities of RBOCs such as Verizon and SBC have garnered the largest headlines recently within the optical access arena. However, Farmer points out that most FTTH subscribers in the United States today receive services from smaller carriers. Thus, the information needs of attendees from these companies “were central to the thought process” when the council created the conference agenda. Nevertheless, the papers comprising the conference will aim to educate attendees across the spectrum of FTTH expertise, from major carriers with FTTH projects already underway to smaller carriers, real estate developers, and municipalities that want to know what all the fuss is about. The speakers will include representatives from the vendor, user, legal, and consulting communities. Tutorials will be offered on Monday, Oct. 3, at an additional charge.

For attendees looking for an overview of the market, highlights include a panel discussion involving representatives of some of the major incumbent carriers, a comparison of fiber access standards and architectures, and presentations detailing the latest in public policy and legal issues. Farmer reports that the council has perceived a significant interest in video transmission, and several presentations will cover this topic, including one given by Farmer himself Wednesday morning, Oct. 5.

U.S. Senator Conrad Burns will deliver the opening keynote address Tuesday, Oct. 4. The third-term Republican senator from Montana was a co-sponsor of legislation that has enabled the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s broadband loan program as well as efforts to provide broadband tax incentives, anti-spamming regulations, and E911 requirements. He is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and chairs the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

The closing keynote presentation will feature Curtis Anderson, acting administrator, Rural Utilities Service. He will address the USDA’s Rural Development Broadband Loan Program, which has funded rural telecommunications networks for more than 50 years. It recently has provided funding for several optically based broadband initiatives.

When not attending the conference, attendees will have the option of walking the aisles of the conference’s companion exhibition. Bruce Smith of Brent & Moore Associates, which will provide conference management services this year, says more than 120 exhibitors had signed onboard as of the first week in August. He expects the final exhibitor count could rise to as high as 150.

As a bonus, the Continental Automated Building Association (CABA) will collocate its Connected@Home 2005 event with the FTTH Conference. Attendees of the FTTH Conference will be able to enjoy the exhibition attached to the CABA event free of charge. The two conferences will also share plenary presentations as well as an awards luncheon Oct. 5.

CABA and the FTTH Council are working together to boost attendance at the two events. Smith predicts that the FTTH Conference will draw 1,500 people, up from last year’s 1,200. A recent CABA promotion touted an expected attendance of “approximately 500” for its event.

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