CompTel Attendance Skyrockets in Orlando
By PHONE+ Staff
The changing political winds, a softer economy and the celebration of two
decades as a champion of competition helped attendance for the Competitive
Telecommunications Association’s (CompTel, www.comptel.org)
20th Anniversary Convention skyrocket in Orlando, Fla. More than 4,300 people
attended the three-day affair.
"I think the reason for the great turnout is the special celebration,
because it is our 20th anniversary, but clearly some of our members are
concerned with the political winds," said H. Russell Frisby Jr., CompTel
During an interview at the Feb. 18-21 convention, Frisby said the soft
economy also may be a factor, because some members are re-examining their travel
plans and cutting back the number of exhibitions they will attend this year.
"With that in mind, they say CompTel is the place to make the best
deals," Frisby said.
Frisby said CompTel recognizes that the economic slowdown is difficult,
especially for its smaller members. The heart of that problem is what is behind
the "Break the Bottleneck Campaign," which CompTel launched during the
The organization’s president explained that smaller companies are having
trouble raising capital because they have not expanded as quickly as investors
may have expected. The companies can’t grow because they run into roadblocks in
provisioning, which often are related directly to the RBOCs.
"It’s a circle," Frisby said. "The more they try to get ahead,
the more problems they have with the Bells. That is why our Break the Bottleneck
Campaign is so vital. It is time for RBOCs to fully comply."
The campaign includes a major effort to get telecom companies to lobby
Congress to insist on compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Frisby emphasized that the issue is not a partisan one, offering a reminder
that structural separation began under the Reagan administration, and the
original AT&T Corp. (www.att.com) breakup
began when Gerald Ford was president.
While the economy and politics were on the minds of many attendees, the
CompTel staff planned convention sessions that focused on emerging trends and
current events within the industry.
CompTel also launched its Hall of Fame for the "Champions of
Competition" with a private ceremony. Eleven people were inducted. They
Baxter, Greene and McGowan were honored posthumously.
On the second day, former Ohio Democratic Senator John Glenn wowed the crowd
with a keynote speech that promoted public service and education.
During CompTel’s February show, new board members are elected to guide the
organization in its policy goals. Results of this year’s votes are:
Large Company Board
Annual revenues of more than $500 million:
Medium-sized Company Board
Annual revenues between $25 million and $500 million:
Small Company Board
Annual revenues of less than $25 million:
The boards then elected Hanson to be the chair.
These boards will work to develop and encourage national policies that foster
faster, more efficient deployment of broadband services, while they oppose any
new legislation that would give interLATA data relief to Bell companies.
But the tradeshow floor is where the real action took place. It was the place
to meet and greet, dwell and sell, pass out resumes and search for new
With 200 exhibitors using 90,000 square feet to network, attendees could find
a little of everything. The floor was ground zero for colorful,
three-dimensional booths, clever presentations and giveaways. The increase in
the number of utility firms now entering the telecommunications market was
noticeable, as the largest and splashiest booths belonged to energy companies.