Optical/IP Networks

TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back

United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) president Walter McCormick and USTelecom's attorneys have shot back at a group of telecom equipment vendors that were weighing whether they should exhibit at both USTelecom's TelecomNext show and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) 's Globalcomm show in 2007.

Background: As reported on July 19, several vendors have advanced the idea that the two associations, which were partners in presenting the successful Supercomm tradeshow series, should put aside their differences, get back together, and put on one large telecom-focused show. (See TIA, USTA Split on Supercomm.) A letter that was circulated amongst the vendors went so far as to suggest that several vendors would refrain from exhibiting at TelecomNext in 2007. (See Gearheads: The Shows Must Not Go On.)

That letter had signature spaces listed for the following vendors:

But, as reported by Light Reading this week, that letter was never finalized, signed, nor sent. (See Vendors Table TelecomNext Turmoil.)

Even in the absence of a vendor uprising, USTelecom has responded to Light Reading's report in a big way by sending letters to several of the top lawyers and CEOs of the major equipment manufacturers listed in Light Reading's story.

In his letter to the CEOs, USTelecom president McCormick says his association's member companies "find it odd that this demand for a 'single tradeshow' appears to be solely aimed at discouraging participation in TelecomNEXT, but not other industry exhibitions that could be considered to be duplicative of Globalcomm."

McCormick adds: "In light of the published report, USTelecom will be providing its Board of Directors and the executives of its member companies with regular updates as to which suppliers are supporting TelecomNEXT, and encouraging the patronization of those who are supporting their association and their show."

McCormick's letter was carbon copied to the USTelecom board of directors and Susan Miller, president and CEO of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) . The attachments to the letter received by the vendors included a list of USTelecom's board of directors and the executives of its member companies. That list was a roll call of the CTOs and top legal minds at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), Embarq Corp. (NYSE: EQ), and several other U.S.-based carriers.

But wait, there's more.

In letters addressed to the legal counsel of those same equipment makers, telecom equipment makers are said to be possibly agreeing with competitors "to not compete with each other by not exhibiting at TelecomNEXT."

Attached to the lawyer letters was documentation of the case of Full Draw Productions vs. Easton Sports, Inc., a case that involved the boycott of an archery equipment tradeshow when organizers refused to sell the show to an archery equipment trade association, according to the publication, The Antitrust Review of the Americas. That boycott was found by the courts to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, but the relevance to TelecomNext wasn't made clear in the letters obtained by Light Reading.

"I think what you're seeing here is really a reflection of an alignment of interests," says Geoff Burke, director of field marketing for Calix. Burke says companies with international interests may be less likely to go all-in for a mostly U.S.-centric show.

Calix, as an example, has already reserved booth space for TelecomNext and counts U.S. carriers (USTelecom's main members) as its largest customers. Also, the company says it was never party to the vendor letter that circulated calling for a single telecom show.

USTelecom was contacted for this story but declined to comment on, well, anything. Several vendors reached by Light Reading for this story provided information about the letters they received, but they declined to go on record with any comments.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:45:50 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back re: "... USTelecom will be providing its Board of Directors and the executives of its member companies with regular updates as to which suppliers are supporting TelecomNEXT, and encouraging the patronization of those who are supporting their association and their show... "

Is a vendor's trade show attendance record usually a trigger for carrier equipment purchases?

palaeozoic 12/5/2012 | 3:45:48 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back
No, but the primary mission of the USTA is to promote the interests of ILECs (both RBOCs and IOCs) in Washington. TelecomNEXT, and the annual Telecom conference before it, subsidizes those efforts. Suppliers understand that spending money to promote the interests of their customers will further their own business interests.

And don't be so naive as to confuse this with buying business. Legislation and regulations aligned with the interests of ILECs are--by definition--also aligned with the interests of equipment suppliers.

sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:45:48 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back This sounds like it's straight out of the Sopranos. Can USTelecom also hook me up with a Rolex watch and a Prada bag?
sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:45:42 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back <<legislation --="" aligned="" also="" and="" are="" by="" definition="" equipment="" ilecs="" interests="" of="" regulations="" suppliers="" the="" with="">>

This may be the case some of the time, but I don't think that most suppliers have seen benefits from the consolidation of ILECs. Eventually, there may be only a handful of vendors left to buy booth space at TelecomNext.</legislation>
trzwuip 12/5/2012 | 3:45:36 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back USTA:

You might want to read "How to Win Friends & Influence People" again. Threatening Anti-Trust usually doesn't work too well. During my reading of the book, I do not recall finding it anywhere in there.

This just goes to show an organization who doesn't really sell anything, shouldn't try to sell a tradeshow either. McCormick's ego is out of control and the ILECs may be better served by a replacement!
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:45:32 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back The USTA thermonuclear response to a letter that was never even sent, including the passive-aggressive anti-trust threats, actually seems to validate the concerns that sparked the drafting of said unsent letter in the first place. Really, the USTA could have summarized its point more simply and directly: "Shut up and send a check or we'll sue." Might have saved some paper. Too bad the USTA did not use this as an opportunity to have a dialogue with its exhibitors, perhaps even send the message that their business is valued, and their input is important to the show's success.
^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 3:45:20 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back Phil,

Not only NO, but &%^*&%*^ NO!

you would be amazed at how few actual decision makers from the RBOCs, ILECs, LECs, and other major carriers attend these shows.

it helps to get your message out and to network. And they are particularly helpful to start ups trying to make a footprint for themselves. But frankly, the carrier guys are far more sophisticated than that.

Few remember that SUPERCOMM was originally a CARRIER sponsored, CARRIER organized and Carrier financed event.

it used to rotate to various host cities in the home territory of the respective RBOC's that were hosting / sponsoring the event.

Hence, some shows were in New Orleans, some in Dallas, some in Atlanta, etc.

When it became a commercial venture sold off to professional show producers, (because the carriers saw that it had lost it's key early value to them) the carrier attendence by critical decision makers tapered off. The most interesting part of Supercomm was the papers presented by carrier technology staff.. and many of them rarely or NEVER came on the trade show exhibits floor.

When it became a commercial operation and more about making money for the show producers, they stopped moving it around and stayed in Atlanta. And the trend toward doing every thing possible to maximize show revenues accelerated the departure of carrier staff (cost too much to go! travel budgets for carrier staff has been cut severely over the last several years).

99% of the work to close deals is done at the carriers own offices and labs. TelecomNext and Globalcomm need to get back to adding significant value to the people with the money that all the systems houses want: Carriers. Today, neither show adds much if any value to the carriers.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:45:19 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back Good points. Good post.

So if carriers are the big catch. Which show has the best bait and trap?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:45:16 AM
re: TelecomNext: McCormick Strikes Back
There are no shows that help you with the big carriers overall. They end up being convenient places to have meetings as lots of people from both sides are there. The State shows are much better for small carriers. It is better to go to shows that are outside the areas where you are strong to get introductions to some people. It is a long process to build into a new area and shows are one way to get there.

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