TIA 2013: Discovering the silver lining in the TDM-to-IP transition

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecomThe TIA 2013 conference may trace its roots to Supercomm, but the show that will kick off Monday at the Gaylord National hotel in National Harbor, Md. is hardly the same.

It has evolved from a vendor booth-driven extravaganza to a conference format where members of the telecom community gather to talk about the issues that are affecting their businesses and how they will deliver services to their customers.

Taly Walsh, vice president of Networking & Intelligence for the Telecommunications Industry Association, told FierceTelecom that this change was driven by what it heard from its own customers about what they wanted to get out of a major show.  

"Three years ago our starting point was that we said 'we don't want another Supercomm.' And that came about because we were trying to listen to the customer and the exhibitors, who were sick of going to all of these trade shows and carting their stuff all around and spending money on big booths and never knowing what was going to turn out in terms of attendance," she said. "What we decided was to move away from that format and go to a conference format."

This year's event features over 250 speakers, six different tracks, and 10 workshops.

Walsh said they also wanted to more "closely tie the focus of the event, which is the future of the network, to what TIA is about as a trade association serving its members, and include the trifecta of policy, technology and business and/or markets as a prism to view all the various topics assembled under the umbrella as the future of the network."  

When TIA 2013 kicks off Monday, two of the key themes will be cloud and the ongoing TDM-to-IP transition.

Businesses may still have their reservations about the cloud, but according to a recent Forrester Research study, 75 percent of enterprises are using or are planning to use some type of cloud-based service.

To prepare for new cloud services growth, a number of traditional telcos and competitive carriers, including CenturyLink's Savvis and C Spire, increased their data center footprints. At the same time, tw telecom (Nasdaq: TWTC) and Integra, while not data center providers themselves, have expanded their fiber networks into more data center facilities in the Western United States.

The other major topic of discussion is how the FCC will deal with the transition from legacy TDM to IP. A number of the major telcos, particularly AT&T (NYSE: T), have lobbied the FCC to provide a regulatory framework that will enable it meet its goals to migrate to an all IP-based network by the year 2020.

Leading the policy discussion during TIA will be James Ciconni,  senior EVP of external and legislative affairs for AT&T, Craig Silliman,  SVP of public policy for Verizon (NYSE: VZ), and Thomas Sugrue, SVP of government affairs for T-Mobile US.

TIA 2013 will also celebrate diversity and the growing presence of role of women leaders in the telecom industry at the Policy Keynote Interview: Women in Leadership on Wednesday. 

Moderated by Kathleen Abernathy, EVP of External Affairs for Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR), this panel will address the role and opportunities women have in the telecom industry. Joining Abernathy will be Maggie Wilderotter, CEO and chairman of Frontier, Mignon L. Clyburn, acting chairwoman of the FCC, and Lisa Hook, president and CEO of Neustar.

I will also take an active role in the conference by moderating two panels on Wednesday, Oct. 9: "The SMB Cloud Market Needs You!"  and "The Basics: Customer Experience Management 101."

Joining me on the SMB Cloud panel will be Mark Rice, senior director of Operator Channels, Syndication for Microsoft, Mike McRoberts, director of product management and development at Sprint (NYSE: S),  John Zanni, VP of Service Provider Alliances at Parallels, and Judy Schramm, CEO of ProResource.

The CEM panel will feature Ray Bariso, VP of strategy for OSS/BSS at Ericsson, and Dan Sanders, VP, Network Operation Centers for Time Warner Cable.

Click here to get information about the panels.

In addition to hosting two panels, I will be providing daily coverage of the event. Tune into FierceTelecom for my coverage.–Sean