Thursday, 25 February 2010
Many thanks to all those who have made this visit possible and very enjoyable. If only I didn't have to rush back for the FTTH colloquium in the UK on Friday - there are so many people still to talk to! Thanks to AFL Technologies, Emtelle, Cisco, FTTH Council Board (especially for the unexpected kudos), and to all the many others who have suffered being collared by me, often purely on account of their name badges, and who have accepted my interrogations and offered invaluable advice and support.
There are a couple of bad points I need to get out of the way.
Another conference venue with insufficient bandwidth to overused access points. 20Mbps divided up through 16 access points is simply NOT ENOUGH. There were 2,500+ delegates, many of whom were wifi-enabled and/or looking to use a decent network. For many, this should have been the opportunity to experience the reality of FTTH. So many trying to hammer such a slim network.... Hmmm, you can guess the results!
And what a sadly dark (and oddly blue) venue for a conference about light.
Also, I ventured into several sessions and failed to hear anything new from the panels and speakers. Our session was apparently cancelled because of the white papers received from vendors. What a shame. I think both the students and the bloggers had novel things to contribute....
I thought I was just feeling my age in the FTTH arena i.e. 10 years - "heard it all before". BUT, I realised it is not that. I think it is that the standard traditional conference format is now dead in the water. Out on the floor and in the booths, it was such a very different story - dynamic and lively. Especially for someone like me who is pushing the rural FTTH picture. This year I am no longer aiming at the moon alone it seems. It was telling that the exhibition space was so busy through every session - people want to interact with others, not hear speakers who often know less than the audience.
Colloquia and interactive-type events are the way forward, I'm sure....luckily, that's what we do so well!! The students and I spent a happy hour or two discussing what we would like to make happen at future FTTH Council events. Wolfgang et al, watch your inboxes! And Joeri, you are going to be fully interactive in this ;o)
Then, there was the slightly failed meet up which wasn't helped by the congestion on the network when we were all trying to meet. But, you live and learn! Sorry to the people who I know now were within feet of us....and none of us realised. (RFID tags in conference name badges anyone?!)
So, the pukka stuff....
* FTTH Council events give you the opportunity to mix with those in the space who know their stuff. The Council deserve a very serious pat on the back for such a high quality of delegate and exhibitor.
* The calibre of questions being asked at the student's booth by FTTH Council members was great, and telling - the vendors need the answers from their end users. There were only 4 of us amongst all those attendees but the students' demos and answers were awesome. Look them up - Kevin, Mihail and J.
* Every booth I went to seemed to have a major innovation for FTTH. Companies across the whole of Europe and beyond are making huge steps in solving the FTTH problems. New problems are constantly emerging - do you know how flat out the fibre companies are running to keep up with increased demand? Why isn't an HD TV with built-in webcam available today? 144 or 96?!
* The focus for many companies who have traditionally been B2B has shifted to B2C ie FTTH delivery, services etc. I've been watching this in the UK and it was clearly reflected here - new entrants (but experienced corporates) to not just the B2C market per se, but the FTTH delivery rather than supply market. If you count 'home' as premise, building, road, dyke etc - "anything which can be smart and fibred" as I heard in one session today, then this consumer facing approach can only be applauded.
* Each of us is a consumer. It's just maybe that some people forget that fact when they are "at work". Don't! You are just like me, my neighbour, my friends, my family. We all need this connectivity, whoever we are. Every conversation I had on that premise went into topics that were really, really FUNKY!
* Rural FTTH is no longer a "you'll never do it" subject. It is now a conversation opener that leads to some very exciting views, information, products, and more. The figures are compelling and more and more companies have solutions to consider. This in itself is desperately exciting for country bumpkins like me!! And many of the case studies now available should be compulsory reading for the nay sayers. I hope that ongoing talks with the FTTH Council Board will help to make many of these available during 2010 now to those who most need that info in the UK. The numbers stack, guys, JFDI!
* Slowly, but surely, as FTTH Council conferences become a very serious establishment ("we only do 2 events a year and this is one") on the FTTH landscape, then we are seeing much more co-operation and collaboration. Companies are no longer focussing on just their own products. I had far more recommendations this year along the lines of, "You should talk to so and so on Booth x" because people are working together to solve the problems.
* So, the jigsaw pieces are coming together to solve the FTTH problem, and that is heart-warming. Interestingly, the FTTH solution seems to tick many of the boxes that nations need to in order to not just recover from this recession, but also to progress for the next 20-50 years. Now, if only a few politicians, regulators, public sector workers etc would realise that FTTH would solve so many of their problems....! I think they are, but why aren't there more of them at these fantastic conferences?
* My notebook is overflowing with ideas, thoughts, innovation, contacts and details of projects to investigate. And that, I guess, is why the FTTH Council Conference events are *so* worth attending. In a year where some things have pushed so many of those in the broadband world to utter desperation, frustration and exhaustion, this event once again lights the fire (pun intended) to keep going.
My final thank you - Luis and Gonzalo - for a fascinating insight into Portugal and for putting up with my Spartuguese!