More than 2,100 telecom executives (and an Elvis impersonator) converged on the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., for this weeks COMPTEL PLUS Convention & Expo. COMPTEL Chairman Sherm Henderson said the turnout, which is expected to grow by several hundred by Tuesday, was, in part, the result of many converging circumstances, such as the wireless wars, the election and the economy. They are here to do some fact finding, he said.
Last weeks announcements by AT&T Inc., T-Mobile USA Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. that they are offering all-you-can-eat pricing puts a sharp focus on wireless, Henderson said, noting that we now are seeing more wireless minutes than wireline minutes. As a result, COMPTEL is focusing efforts on recruiting more wireless infrastructure vendors to its events to help enable its members to participate in the growth of wireless, said Jerry James, the new CEO of COMPTEL.
The efforts already are visible on the show floor where, of the more than 120 exhibitors, there are a number of companies displaying wireless and fixed-mobile wares, such as Advantage Telecom, Comverse, Quescom and Samsung.
The economy, specifically the looming recession, seemed to be of little concern to exhibitors and attendees at the event, some even called it an opportunity. Everybody needs to communicate, said Sherm Henderson, explaining the opportunity succinctly. He added when slowdowns happen, companies stop sending employees on trips and use communications networks instead.
Keynote speaker Arunas Chesonis, chairman and CEO of PAETEC, told the COMPTEL Show Daily his company has been down this road before and that while telecom does well in the boom times, competitive carriers like PAETEC do well during a slowdown by offering savings and flexibility with companies that are impacted by downsizing mandates and changing communications requirements. The competitive industrys value proposition is much more compelling in a downturn, he said.
Cindy Whelan, senior analyst for business services for Current Analysis Inc., said the growing bandwidth requirements of businesses arent likely to go away, so thats good news for providers.
In addition, being able to move customers to bigger bandwidth cheaply also should have a good play, said Gary Bolton of Hatteras Networks. He said there has been increasing interest in his companys Ethernet over copper products as a way to do that, noting coppers ready availability and Ethernets economical price.
Bolton said he was pleased by the traffic at the show, particularly during the Sunday kickoff. COMPTELs James said about 1,200 people packed the hall on Sunday.
As for the presidential election, thats still up in the air, and Henderson said its anyones ballgame. People are saying that its going to be a Democratic administration, but I wouldnt be so sure, he said, noting the fluidity of the situation. Whoever wins will have an impact on the economy as well as on telecom policy.