Concerns related to the new coronavirus have prompted AT&T to withdraw from the RSA Conference 2020 that opens its doors in San Francisco on February 24, making the giant US operator the second big name, after IBM, to announce it is staying away from the giant security technology event.
And now there are suggestions in the security community that Verizon might follow suit.
February 24 was also the day that Mobile World Congress 2020 was to open its doors: That show was canceled on February 12 after most of the major participants withdrew due to concerns related to the virus, which has now been officially designated COVID-19.
The RSA noted on its website Thursday:
We learned today that AT&T Cybersecurity made the decision to no longer participate in RSA Conference 2020 as a Gold Sponsor. We understand and respect their decision. RSA Conference is scheduled to open registration on Saturday, February 22 and our exhibitors have begun building their booths in preparation for the event.
Since our last update, the number of individuals, including those from AT&T Cybersecurity, who have canceled their registration is approximately 1.2 percent of the total number of expected attendees. We also feel that it is important to communicate an update regarding the nine companies from China signed up to exhibit at RSA Conference 2020. Of those nine companies, six have canceled due to travel restrictions. The remaining three exhibitors from China will be staffing their booth with individuals from the U.S.A. to maintain their presence at RSA Conference. The total number of exhibitors, including AT&T, that have canceled their participation as a sponsor or exhibitor is thirteen. As stated above, six of them are from China; six are from the U.S.A.; and one of them is from Canada.
So the show is going ahead, just minus a few big names and a small number of others. Verizon, it seems, might be thinking the same as AT&T, according to industry sources, but that withdrawal has not been officially announced by either the operator or the RSA.
If the RSA show can pass successfully and without incident it will give confidence to others that industry event attendance, at least in the US, is no more or less risk-free than normal. That would come as a relief, no doubt, to the organizers of OFC, the upcoming annual optical gathering that start in San Diego on March 8.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters affirmed this week that the NAB Show is still set to take place as planned, April 18-22, in Las Vegas. The organization and show host added it is "closely monitoring COVID-19 … and is prepared to devote whatever resources necessary to ensure a safe and productive NAB Show experience."
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading