EXPO '03 reflects sign of the times.

Author:Lowe, David
Position:2003 NTCA Annual Meeting & EXPO

With more than 100 exhibitors, NTCA members did not have to search long to find answers to their telecommunications technology questions at the NTCA EXPO '03 held at the association's 49th Annual Meeting in Phoenix in early February.

In looking across the sea of vendors and exhibits, it seemed that most, if not all of the latest telecommunications solutions were showcased. From the switch to the local loop, from digital subscriber line (DSL) to fiber optic technologies, almost every imaginable telecommunications technology was on display.

However, the blend of exhibitors at this year's expo was significantly different than last year's. With the adversities that have plagued the telecommunications industry over the last few years, the blend of solution providers seemed to focus on NTCA members' traditional core competencies: wireline solutions. Local loop technologies, like DSL and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH)/fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) [sometimes also known affectionately by members located in agricultural communities as fiber-to-the-cow], were clearly evident.

In Search of Wireless

Despite many successful wireless deployments by rural carriers, conspicuously absent were wireless solution providers, both in the fixed wireless broadband and mobile wireless arenas. Because of the slow growth in local multipoint distribution service (LMDS), economies of scale were not realized in this arena and now this industry segment is floundering.

Satisfactory LMDS equipment seems to be disappearing, leading many NTCA member companies working with LMDS technology to rethink or abandon their fixed wireless business plans.

As for multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS), only a handful of members have licenses, although those who do, have reported successful deployment. NTCA members also have found success in deploying unlicensed spectrum fixed wireless broadband.

Just as wireless solutions providers were hard to come by at the expo, so were equipment vendors. This was...

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