February 2004 marked the return of the big booth to the CompTel/ASCENT Alliance shows, with companies including Sprint, BellSouth Interconnection Services, Qwest Communications International Inc. and MCI contributing to the re-energized feel of the telecom industry by erecting the large booths more often found in years past. Optimism and high hopes charged the atmosphere, and comments from exhibitors throughout the floor reflected that enthusiasm.
Ernest Ellis, president and CEO of Telecom Compliance Services Inc., said the show, by Monday morning, already had "surpassed our expectations. We’re going to leave here and be very, very busy."
SNET DG employees agreed. As part of its marketing draw, the company gave away mood rings, and Tom Powell, Sue Duffy and Sean Donadio gauged the show’s disposition as "very good," "calm," and "relaxed," respectively. Norlight Networks also had the mood jewelry on hand. Dressed in a tie-dyed T-shirt and wearing 3D glasses, Mike Turnbull, Norlight’s manager of new business development for wholesale services, said he thinks telecom is re-emerging and "getting better."
VeriSign invited passersby to shut themselves in a booth and grab for real cash and VeriSign money as it spun around, powered by bursts of air. As of Monday morning, the most real money won totaled $23, and the most VeriSign money collected came to $100, good toward company merchandise. Meanwhile, Onvoy Inc. offered its visitors free massages courtesy of massage therapist Ambra. During some downtime, SNET DG’s Seth Donad enjoyed a back massage, and was unable to comment on it much beyond a mumble as he rested facedown in the chair.
Throughout the show floor, exhibitors and visitors expressed their excitement over the rebound of telecom and hopes for its continued good times. JODE Corp.’s Jim Silva said his company considered the spring show a "coming out party," since it recently scored two major contracts.
H. Russell Frisby Jr., CEO of the CompTel/ASCENT Alliance, said the organization sold out all 140 booths in the exhibit hall and expected attendance to exceed 2,500 people. "It shows competition will work and does work," Frisby said.