OFC 2020 management: The show will go on

The Optical Fiber Conference (OFC) is holding steady and said it is still going to put on a show.

After a run of about 40 years the optical networking trade show, which is set to begin March 8 in San Diego, is looking to be in trouble as more exhibitors and participants are pulling out due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, caused by a new member of the coronavirus family that's similar to SARS and MERS.

The spread of the new virus shut down Mobile World Congress Barcelona, one of the world's largest telecom and tech trade shows, earlier this month.

This morning, optical networking vendor and key OFC exhibitor Infinera pulled out of the show.

"While we were looking forward to attending OFC 2020, the premier optical networking conference, and showcasing our latest innovations, our top priority is the health and safety of our employees, and our concern extends to the welfare and well-being of our customers, partners and others in our community," said Tom Fallon, Infinera's CEO, in a statement emailed to the media and investors.

OFC management replied to Light Reading's inquiries with the following:

"We are excited to confirm that OFC 2020 is still on and going strong. The conference will be held as planned 8 – 12 March in San Diego, California, with a high-quality technical program and exhibition. OFC Management is fully committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all OFC attendees. We have heard from many exhibitors that they are committed to attend OFC and we thank them for their continued engagement. OFC Management respects the decision of exhibitors who decided to cancel their participation and look forward to partnering with them in the future."

Several other companies have backed out of OFC and we'll keep a running list.

Table 1: OFC 2020 Cancellations

Company Status Details
Acacia Communications Withdrawal confirmed. The optical components vendora announced on February 27 it was pulling out "due to growing global concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak."
Ciena Withdrawal confirmed. Announced and reported on February 25.
Cisco Withdrawal confirmed. The networking giant said on February 28 that it won't be at OFC or the HIMSS event, which was scheduled for the same week.
Fujitsu Network Communications Withdrawal reported. Mentioned on Twitter by Cignal AI analyst Scott Wilkinson.
Huawei Exhibition withdrawal confirmed. The company may have N. American, European and other staff attending technical sessions but it won't be hosting a booth on the show floor.
Infinera Withdrawal confirmed. The optical networking vendor announced its withdrawal on February 27.
Intel Withdrawal confirmed. Intel confirmed its withdrawal from OFC in a February 27 email to Light Reading.
Lumentum Withdrawal confirmed. The optical components vendor annnounced its decision on February 25.
Nokia Withdrawal confirmed. The company announced its OFC withdrawal on February 28.
OFS Withdrawal confirmed. The optical fiber maker announced its withdrawal from OFC on February 27.
Verizon Withdrawal reported. Verizon reps told Heavy Reading that they were not sending staff to OFC this year.
VIAVI Withdrawal confirmed. The network test company announced to analysts and press via email on February 26 that it "has chosen to cancel its participation in OFC 2020."
Source: Companies, industry analysts, Light Reading

Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

ChiefEng45876 3/3/2020 | 4:17:34 AM
More withdrawals Adva










But still OFC insist the show must go on. Presumably to avoid refunding registration fees...
Teddyweverka 3/2/2020 | 5:54:58 PM
Re: cancellation fees? there is no tipping point for the show managers.  The attendees fees are already paid and the venue is already booked.  The managers get no refund from the venue, and have to refund fees if they cancel.  It costs them a lot cancel and almost nothing to continue to put on the show.

Teddyweverka 3/2/2020 | 3:48:15 PM
Will you cancel attendence? Under what circumstances will LightReading cancel their attendence?
OPTIK 2/27/2020 | 3:15:49 PM
Re: cancellation fees? I do love OFC, by far the best show for optical communications....but what is the point with industry leaders pulling out (Ciena, Acacia, Infinera, Lumentum, etc.). Much better in my opinion would be to postpone for August when hopefully virus will be under control and warm weather should help...
Phil Harvey 2/27/2020 | 3:06:15 PM
Re: cancellation fees? Could be, but I think the show managers probably has a tipping point for when it isn't worth continuing and they can't do much more until they reach that point.

Some shows will have a lot better chance of carrying on because few events find themselves in the shadow of two or three massive exhibitors in the way that Ericsson looms so large at MWC. 

We just saw the RSA conference go on and, despite missing a few names, most folks turned up and most reports were positive.

OPTIK 2/27/2020 | 2:54:52 PM
cancellation fees? I am surprised by OSA's position, is this about money ? Are they waiting for companies to pull out voluntary so they do not have the financial liability to refund them?
Phil Harvey 2/27/2020 | 11:20:00 AM
Re: Um, Ciena? It's in there. Some odd bit of code kept the first and last row from showing up in the table.

Fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.
Keebler 2/27/2020 | 11:11:15 AM
Um, Ciena? I think your table is missing the first one to announce.
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