Supercomm Faces the Music

The biggest story at Supercomm later this month might be the show itself.

An unscientific Light Reading poll of the industry found no vendors skipping out on the show. But there were plenty that wish they could, and think Supercomm is on the hook to prove it can survive.

"I have a sense this is going to be the last year," says one longtime Supercomm-goer.

Not everyone is so doom-and-gloom. "I think, in North America, there's a demand for a large carrier show," one exhibitor tells Light Reading.

But most exhibitors are taking a middle position that's well summed up by another source: "It had better be better than last year."

You all know the cartoony story by now: an attempted split into two shows (some vendors are still bitter about that), a reunification, a revival of the old Supercomm name, and, in March, a surprise move to October rather than June. (See Supercomm Reborn! and Supercomm 2009 Delayed Until October.)

Supercomm is still a see-and-be-seen destination for telecom equipment providers. But 2008 was slow, and there's a sense among some that Mobile World Congress outshines Supercomm as an all-industry destination.

Supercomm is fighting back with a new focus. Rather than vaguely cover core-network issues, the show in 2009 is all about broadband, and the applications and services it enables.

Carriers and vendors were glad to see the show adopt that theme, says Jan Maciejewski, Supercomm's managing director. "What is important is showing how technology has transformed our ability to do things. That's where the concept of a broadband life comes from."

And while vendors suspect the date change had to do with low exhibitor numbers, Supercomm officials insist it was all about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. They had guessed (correctly) that the ARRA's first round would be slow to unfold. By moving the show to October, organizers have been able to line up more sessions about fundraising and the grants process, Maciejewski says.

They got a keynote bonus as well: Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the United States (and, if you're into long titles, Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy). He'll be speaking on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The 2010 dates for Supercomm have been set for Oct. 26 to Oct. 29. Plenty of vendors don't like the show being in the thick of the fall tradeshow block, and Supercomm organizers had to smooth out some feelings there. (See Supercomm's Busy Month.) But according to Maciejewski, a lot of participants find October more agreeable than June, which is near some big tradeshows anyway and clashes with school holidays.

As for a venue, a return to Las Vegas -- which, remember, was supposed to host NXTcomm every other year -- seems unlikely. (See NXTcomm Bets on 'Even' Vegas Dates.)

Carriers and vendors mostly favor Chicago, Maciejewski says. One possible reason: There's more of a carrier population around Chicago than in the Nevada desert (another one: last year's 106 degree heat with, we're told, no air conditioning during booth setup).

"Conversations we've had indicate that Chicago is the place they want it to be next year," Maciejewski says.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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digits 12/5/2012 | 3:54:30 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

"...the show in 2009 is all about broadband, and the applications and services it enables..."

Doesn't that sounds just a little bit like the Broadband World Forum, which used to have a North AMerican event, but which is now focused on the EMEA market?

Maybe S'comm can make something of a market that the BBWF organizers seemingly decided wasn't worth bothering with.

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:54:27 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music After 10 years of attending I give up. They have become a meet and great event with poor attendance by carriers in mass - slow traffic and very little buzz.

I am all in favor of one perhaps two large events a year - we need consolidation of the shows not duplication.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:54:26 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

I'd asked Grant Seifert about BBWF back in March, when the date change and new focus were announced.  The response was, Yes, the missions sound similar, but Seifert thought Supercomm would have a level of carrier support that BBWF lacks.

He might have a point. Off the top of my head, Supercomm's keynotes include representatives of AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Sprint, Cox, BT, and DT.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:54:25 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music



What Bollocks is referring to (and I normally do not agree with him but this time i do) is that 10 years ago there were a lot of customers on the floor and Supercomm was a good way to introduce new things to customers and get your message out.

Now there are some large carrier meetings (generally disconnected from the booth - except maybe as a meeting room), analyst meetings, and press interviews.  From a pure marketing standpoint, Supercomm has gone from a valuable tool to a convenient place to meet existing customers and business partners.

So, as long as people recognize it for what its for then they can get some value.  It is not the same value as the old days, and probably requires less expense to obtain.



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:54:25 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

A correction -- Dates & venue *are* set for 2010:  Oct. 26-29, in Chicago again.

This will allow me to recycle my jokes about how there won't be any Cubs games to attend, since the dates would probably be during the World Series.

Also, I should clarify -- when I talk about some smoothing-over that occurred due to the crowded October schedule, I didn't mean to imply Supercomm negotiated with other tradeshows.  Rather, Maciejewski and I were talking about vendor reaction, referred to some "challenges" (as he put it) that occurred after telling people Supercomm was moving to the fall.

gocowboys 12/5/2012 | 3:54:24 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music The simple fact is that the large carriers are reducing their vendors in each product catagory. They do not need to go to a show to meet with those vendors. In the old days, SuperComm (or is that Telecom Next or Futurecom?) was the showcase for new technologies and emerging companies. Those days are gone and so is the need for this show. I am not going this year and I suspect that most companies are cutting back.
Stevery 12/5/2012 | 3:54:24 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

To amplify what seven said:  The conference organizers have STILL not gotten it thru their heads that they need to cut prices drastically.

As travel and hotel costs keep dropping, I'd rather have a team travel directly to a client (or potential client), where they will get some concentrated attention, rather than pay insane amounts of $$ per sq ft, $$ per union shipping, and nickles+dimes for even putting out bottled water.

I can't figure out if conf organizers don't know their competition or are just bad at competing.

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:54:18 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

What a mistake, this show was done last year.!  It is wasteful to throw good money at bad.  It would be great to have 1 Telecom show a year that is a great show, it isn't Spercom

rahat.hussain 12/5/2012 | 3:54:14 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

i got a personal call from someone at supercomm asking me if i had registered and was coming! i feel special.

and no, i am not going!

odo <- wondering how desperate they must be to place a call to odo!

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:54:14 PM
re: Supercomm Faces the Music

It's amusing -- despite the broadband focus, I've gotten a lot of pitches having to do with 40/100-Gig optical transport. 

To be fair, these are probably folks who booked Supercomm June and just shifted their plans to Supercomm October.  The question is whether this mix of old-school Supercomm exhibitors will continue into 2010.  Wouldn't surprise me if it did.

I have to say, it seems like there will be quite a few people in the show.  But I agree with the third quote in this story: The people footing the bill might not tolerate another "off" year.  And if Odo and Honestly arent' going, then jeez, what's the point.  :)

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