Fiber connoisseurs will find 'best-of-best' optical offerings at National Fiber-Optic Engineering Conference 2000

TRENDS

By ROBERT PEASE

The 16th National Fiber-Optic Engineering Confer ence (NFOEC) ushers in a new millennium at the Colorado Con vention Center in Denver later this month from Aug. 27 to 31. The conference, jointly sponsored by US West Com munica tions Inc. and Telcordia Tech nologies, is a premier exhibition event for the fiber-optic communications industry.

NFOEC was created to provide a forum for sharing experiences and expanding the knowledge base of fiber-optic technologies and applications, as well as to provide information on best practices for communications networks. More than 4,000 engineers, planners, and managers involved in the development of fiber technologies are expected to attend NFOEC 2000. Over the years, attendance has grown to include representatives from the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs), other local and long-distance providers, cable television and data-communications companies, manufacturers, suppliers, universities, and others in the field.

During the educational sessions, three technical panels and more than 150 presentations will be held to update attendees on leading technological advances across the industry. The other primary benefit to attendees is the exhibition floor, where the newest applications and technologies are on display by more than 225 participating vendors in the communications, networking, and fiber-optic industry.

"This could be the largest technical program ever for NFOEC," says Rolf Frantz, a member of the NFOEC 2000 Committee. "We've slotted 156 technical-paper presentations, three panel sessions, one workshop, and five invited presentations. The quality of the technical submissions has been high and, in my experience, continues to improve each year."

To enable attendees to take maximum advantage of both the educational sessions and the exhibits, the exhibit floor opens after completion of the technical program on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Exhibit floor hours are 3 to 7 pm on Monday; 3:15 to 7 pm on Tuesday; and noon to 3 pm on Wednesday.

The conference begins with a Sunday afternoon workshop covering DWDM and optical networking in data-centric networks. The premise for this workshop is the growing trend toward communication transport via packet-switched networks as the shift is made to a global, Internet-connected future. As circuit-switched networks evolve to data-centric packet-switched networks, issues related to the function and operation of the optical transport layer and its interplay with the switching and routing of bits need to be addressed ahead of time. This workshop will elucidate an evolutionary path to tomorrow's next-generation networks that address where the future lies, what the carriers are planning, and how emerging technologies will affect the course of events. The workshop takes place from 3 to 6 pm and includes a panel of industry experts.

A welcome reception at the Adams Mark Hotel on Sunday evening from 6:30 to 9 pm will provide a great chance to meet with old and new colleagues in an informal environment. Continental breakfasts, lunches, and morning and afternoon breaks will be provided during the plenary and technical sessions each day of the conference. A more traditional social event is also planned for Wednesday evening at the Colorado Ocean Journey Aquarium.

Following Monday's breakfast, the plenary session kicks off at 8 am in the convention center ballroom with several invited papers. After lunch, a senior executive from US West will present the keynote address, followed by a general-interest presentation by another well-known invited speaker.

Five concurrent tracks will be provided during the technology session. They include (A) physical-layer elements; (B) physical-layer systems; (C) architecture; (D) planning and service; and (E) management. Each track will consist of several contributed technical papers, along with some panel discussions, presented by innovators and luminaries across the fiber-optic community. The technical tracks run from 8 am to 3:15 pm on Tuesday; 8 am to noon and 3:15 to 5 pm on Wednesday; and 8 am to 3:15 pm on Thursday. The conference officially adjourns on Thursday at 3:15 pm.

"In the early 1990s, the conference had a strong focus on hardware and physical-layer issues," says Frantz. "The 2000 conference continues the trend in recent years of addressing system-level issues-networks, architectures, planning, and management."

One of the intriguing aspects of the technical paper submissions is the representation of numerous smaller companies that either weren't represented last year or may not have existed when NFOEC was last held in Denver in 1996. That, says Franz, coupled with the number of papers submitted from outside the United States, is pretty clear evidence that NFOEC has grown into an industry-wide conference with growing international participation.

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