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Saturday, 14 February 2009

Highs and Lows in Copenhagen

Overall a brilliant conference. Good speakers, plenty of networking opportunities, wide variety selection of exhibitors to talk to, amazing venue (with ample seating, decent wi-fi on a 20Mbps pipe, and yummy food). But, inevitably there were good bits and bad bits!

2500 delegates is a lotta people. It's all very well knowing that someone is definitely there who you want to see, but tracking them down can prove nigh on impossible. RFID tags on every name badge would solve that (I have a separate post on this idea which Erol and I came up with at the FTTH conference in Amsterdam in 2005). Also, an online searchable database of delegates as many people have stayed within the industry but moved companies.

UK representation - appalling and embarrassing. Where were all the people in the UK who need to know what other nations are doing, who need to speak to the experts, discover lessons learnt and best practice, find suppliers, make the necessary contacts to deploy FTTH in our country efficiently and effectively?? There were less than 50 UK people there and the vast majority were from British companies seeking overseas projects and work because there is so little going on in the UK FTTH market, or a few niche telecoms publications' journos. No BSG Exec, no BT apart from four OpenReach folk, no community representatives - no Lord Carter, no MPs, mayors, councillors, DBERR, RDAs or the like, no property developers, no consumer representation (apart from the usual suspects!), and I only found one of the projects who is in the Ofcom consumer panel report represented - nice to see you Nigel!

Further on this note, of the many people from other countries we talked to during the event, many are looking for opportunities to share knowledge and experience with UK companies, councils, communities and consumers but cannot find the openings. We are now working on rectifying this with the Council.

Some of the speakers were truly inspiring, especially those talking about rural solutions. Much of what was being spoken about disproves the common myths about rural fibre deployment costs and take up. There were new proposals for tying up the fibre deployment with utilities (Bill St Arnaud had a very interesting model for this), much talk of Open Access networks now in deployment and how these can work, very interesting statistics, and details of the lessons learnt by many.

However, this 'up' was closely tied into a majorly depressing fact. The UK is SOOOOOOO FAR behind, and much of what was being spoken about seems to be relatively unknown in the UK and therefore not included in current thinking. Ignorance may be bliss, but in this instance it is definitely doing us no favours.

The students were fab, and every conference should be run by youngsters. Many of the suits who engaged with them learnt far more from the students than probably any other aspect of the conference. After all, at a next generation conference, who better to involve than the next generation themselves?! Wish I had taken my kids really, armed with video cameras and the mini Mac, they could have contributed in that vein too.

The meeting with Joeri and Johann (FTTH Council Board) included bubbles and laughter and was hugely productive. Probably the best bit for me in a way as now 'the bloggers' have a project or three to explore, and, through delivery, hopefully achieve many goals for all in this next stage of FTTH.

All in all, thank you for the invite, Joeri. I for one can't wait for Lisbon and hope that there will finally be a chance for someone from the UK to stand on the platform and boast about something, anything, FTTH-related.

1 comment:

Cyberdoyle said...

Glad you had a great conference, it sounds like other countries will lead the way instead of the UK but we will get there in the end. It is a shame BT, Ofcom and the govt are doing ostrich impressions.
Like the bit you said about the students, we were struggling in the computer club with some itunes issue and the kids called in on their way home from school and showed us what to do. The kids will drag us all up, just wait for them to get a bit older then the suits will finally listen to them.