Falling into SUPERCOMM

Today I will head out to my first tradeshow as a FierceTelecom editor. Besides leaving the family behind for three days, what feels strange is that I am going to be at SUPERCOMM in October. Okay, SUPERCOMM in October?

Since I went to my first show in 1999, SUPERCOMM was always the telecom industry's summer family barbecue held in June. And while New England saw its first snowfall in mid-October (yes, mid-October) this past weekend, my fellow Irish Tenor Dan O'Shea assures me that the weather will be about 60 degrees in the Windy City.

What's more curious for me and other telecom watchers is the actual reason why SUPERCOMM's organizers are holding the show in October. The hope, as argued by Jan Maciejewski, Managing Director, EXPOCOMM Events, LLC, "was about getting a greater understanding of the [broadband] stimulus package and then putting together a strong education package around that." (Read our interview with him here.)

At first blush, aligning the SUPERCOMM show with the upcoming Broadband Stimulus wasn't a bad idea. I mean there's a lot of interest from rural service providers, regional cable companies, states and even wholesale service providers such as 360Networks and Level 3 providing middle mile services.

Still, as Dan and others have noticed, SUPERCOMM's keynote lineup includes a group of service providers who decided to opt out of participating in the broadband stimulus program. So besides the U.S. CTO Annesh Chopra, all of the speakers really won't have much to say on broadband stimulus other than perhaps their opposition to that and network neutrality.

Personally, I think it might have made sense to include perhaps one of the middle mile enablers such as my own state's Open Cape initiative or even Level 3, which has positioned itself as a neutral middle mile operator to give smaller carriers access to metro and long-haul circuits.

What will likely be the talk of the town will be the reason why these operators decided to opt out of the stimulus race: uncertainty over the FCC's proposed net neutrality plans. This is a feeling not only that exists at the tier 1 ILECs, but even all of the largest of the tier 2 ILECs sans Frontier that think the lack of clarity around the proposed net neutrality rules makes it not worth the risk.

Despite our feelings about speaker lineup, FierceTelecom is also going to be putting on one event of its own and participating in others. 

First up is our wireless backhaul breakfast will take place bright and early on Thursday morning at 7 AM. I have been assured by my events colleagues there will be steady flow of coffee on hand.  In this non-Powerpoint breakfast event, four wholesale carriers will address wholesale wireless backhaul opportunities. This panel includes two ILECs (Qwest and Verizon), a wholesaler (Level 3) and last but not least a wireless backhaul specialist (Fiber Tower). What's ironic here is that even as AT&T and Verizon see their traditional landline services slow while their wireless data and even voice services gain increased momentum, the wireless industry depends on a wire to backhaul their traffic.

In addition to the wireless backhaul panel, Dan and I will both be separately moderating other panels during the show. Dan will participate in a Broadband Wireless in Business panel, while on Wednesday I am moderating a panel for ATIS on social networking. I encourage you to not only say hello but attend our events as you make it through the hustle and bustle of a traditionally busy trade show. And while the leaves on the trees start to fall and change color, it looks like I am falling into a new fall trade show pattern. -Sean