Despite economy, OFC 2002 looks to be bigger than ever

TRENDS

By MEGHAN FULLER

Theme of the 27th annual Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) Conference and Exhibition is "Changing at Light Speed"-rather ironic given that even conference coordinator Cynthia Davis admits "not much has changed: OFC is OFC."

Of course, OFC, in recent years, has been the largest annual gathering of individuals in the fiber-optic telecommunications industry, and by all accounts, this year's event will be much the same. OFC 2002, to be held Sunday, March 17, through Friday, March 22, will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA, because it is the only exhibit facility on the West Coast large enough to house the event, claim conference organizers. Even the industry's current economic woes have not hampered OFC's growth; the 2002 edition will feature a 23% increase in exhibiting companies and a 38% increase in exhibiting space over last year's event.

While maintaining the quality of the technical and educational programs has remained foremost in the minds of OFC organizers, attendee convenience and traffic control have also been high priorities. Traffic density at least year's event was, on average, four attendees per every 100 sq ft of exhibit space during the full period of the exhibition-nearly twice the national benchmark average of 2.2. While that is good news for exhibitors and attendees, it creates something of a headache for event coordinators.

According to Davis, the first few days of OFC 2001 were fraught with registration problems. "We got slammed with 10,000 people who didn't register until they got here," she admits. To ease the congestion at this year's event, attendees will have their choice of seven registration locations throughout the conference center.

"We've also added an international lounge where our international attendees can register and gather throughout the week," says Davis. "There will be four bilingual interpreters there." International attendees made up nearly one-quarter of last year's total attendance, and that percentage is expected to increase this year.

The OFC Website (www.ofc-online.org) has also been revamped to help attendees better plan their OFC experience. All technical sessions, tutorials, workshops, and short courses are listed online, complete with dates, times, locations, descriptions, and instructor or panelist bios. Exhibitors are arranged according to product categories; browsers can click on a certain product and retrieve a list of all exhibiting companies-and their booth numbers-that have offerings in that category.

"People should be able to plan everything if they visit the Website ahead of time," says Davis. "Then they'll be organized when they get here-which is important. The show is huge."

Attendees can also e-mail exhibitors directly from the OFC Website. Next year, says Davis, conference planners hope to have the site set up so that attendees can actually schedule meetings online as well.

Technical component
Always a popular item, the OFC short courses will be held throughout the week, rather than just the first two days, to accommodate anticipated demand. Tuition for each course is a separate fee, and advanced registration via the Website is recommended since most courses have limited enrollments. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) certificates will be awarded to all attendees who complete a short course, CEU form, and evaluation; both forms will be available onsite. Ninety-seven courses will be offered this year, targeting three levels of expertise: beginner, advanced beginner, and intermediate.

Short courses for the beginner include "Basic Fiber Optics for the Absolute Beginner," "Introduction to Networks," "Optical Fiber Connectors and Splices," and "Introduction to Optoelectronic Devices." Advanced beginners may enroll in such courses as "Fast Reconfigurable WDM Optical Networks," "AWG Technologies: Design and Their Applications," and "Introduction to Optical Control Plane Standards and Technology: OIF UNI, GMPLS, G.ASON and All That!" Intermediate courses include "Measurement of Polarization Mode Dispersion" and "Packaging of Optoelectronic Components."

A series of six participatory workshops will be held Monday (March 18), 4:30-8 pm, and are open to all full conference registrants. Topics covered include "Optical Networking: Applications of a User-Network Interface," "Ultra-Long-Haul Terrestrial and Submarine Systems," "Modulation Formats and Ultimate Capacity," "Components for 40-Gbit/sec Source Modulation," "Gigabit Ethernet in Metro and Access Networks: How Big a Deal Is It?" and "Simulation Tools for System, Device, and Network Modeling."

Also open to all attendees is the Commercial Technology Program, a series of seven panel discussions and presentations that examine the telecom industry from a business and applications perspective. According to Davis, this program was one of the more popular features of last year's conference.

OFC's technical program, open to all attendees, is divided into eight categories: Fibers and Propagation; Fiber Amplifiers and Lasers; Passive and Dynamic Fiber and Waveguide Components; Optoelectronic Devices; Digital Transmission Systems; Subsystems, Network Elements, and Analog Systems; Networks; and Applications. Over 1,100 technical papers were submitted for consideration, a 30% jump from last year's submissions.

Eleven hour-long tutorials are also on this year's schedule. Held concurrently with other technical sessions, the tutorials will cover such topics as forward error correction, Gigabit Ethernet, waveguide-based optical switches, and transmission-system impairments caused by polarization-mode dispersion.

OFC 2002 will also feature more than 1,200 exhibitors, an increasing number of whom are also taking part in the educational program. At press time, 87 vendors were slated to unveil their new products as part of OFC's Product Showcase. According to Davis, exhibitors like the format, and more may sign up before the event.

Exhibit hours run from 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday (March 19); 9 am-6 pm, Wednesday (March 20); and 9 am-4 pm, Thursday (March 21).


Tuesday, March 19
12-2 pm
Business and management topics
3-6 pm
Optical switch fabrics: What is their value and when will they deliver?

Wednesday, March 20
8:30-10:30 am
Telecom trends: Analyst and investor views
11 am-1 pm
Lowering network costs through optical technology
1:30-3:30 pm
Broadband access: Lessons learned

Thursday, March 21
8:30-10:30 am
MPLS/GMPLS and applications
2-4 pm
OIF annual industry update

Tuesday, March 19
11 am-12:30 pm
OTDM; Multiwavelength fiber lasers and planar amplifiers; Polymer waveguides and devices; Optical performance monitoring and control; Network architecture and routing; Optical networks: A European view
2-4 pm
Raman I; Optical regeneration; Optical MEMS components; Network design I
4:30-6:30 pm
Wideband transmission; Optical parametric amplifiers; Components for CD and PMD compensation; Optical signal processing; Network design II; Control management and testing applications

Wednesday, March 20
8:30-10:30 am
Fiber fabrication, properties, and measurement; Integrated lasers; Optical packet switching I
8:45-10:30 am
Optical performance monitoring and control II
9-10:30 am
Scaling intelligent optical networks
1:30-3:30 pm
PMD compensation I; Novel fiber lasers and amplifiers; Dispersion measurement techniques; Nonlinear optical processing; High-speed electronics and detectors; Optical packet switching II; Submarine transmission and FEC
4-6 pm
Fiber laser sources; Micro-optic devices; Fiber for chromatic dispersion compensation; 40-Gbit/sec components; Metro and access networks; High-capacity transmission

Thursday, March 21
8:30-10:30 am
Polarization mode dispersion properties I; Raman III; Components for ultra-dense WDM; Access and metro networks
9-10:30 am
Switching and OADM
9:15-10:30 am
Transmission systems
11 am-12:30 pm
Device application; Optical networking architectures and applications
2-3:30 pm
Fiber transmission issues; Tunable DBR lasers; 40-Gbit/sec WDM systems
4-5:30 pm
Dispersion compensation fiber gratings; OCDM and OTDM networks; 40-Gbit/sec transmission; Novel amplifier materials

Sponsored by IEEE/ComSoc (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Communications Society), IEEE/LEOS (Lasers and Electro-Optics Society), and the Optical Society of America.

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