- June 2002 -
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CONNECTIONS™ would like to extend a Texas-sized "thank you" to the more than 50 exhibiting sponsors, two supporting organizations, and 24 supporting publications for their participation in and support of what has become the industry's largest, most important and focused executive conference and trade show for the home networking and residential gateway industries. We'll expect many happy returns in 2003, when CONNECTIONS™ will convene for the seventh consecutive year!
Leaders in the home networking and residential gateway space converged in Dallas from May 14-16, 2002, for CONNECTIONS™ 2002: The International Home Networks and Gateways Showcase. Combining Southern hospitality with networking opportunities, insightful keynotes, multiple sessions on the technological and marketing aspects of these industries, and a showcase area with more than 50 companies displaying new and unique products offerings, CONNECTIONS™ was indeed a gathering of Texas-sized proportions!
Ron Zimmer, President and CEO of CABA, and Tricia Parks, President of Parks Associates, officially opened CONNECTIONS™ on Tuesday afternoon. Richard Buzun, President and CEO of Siemens Energy and Automation, and Susan Marshall, Senior Vice President of Advanced Broadband Services for AT&T Broadband, provided the keynote addresses. Mr. Buzun offered a glimpse of the benefits that networking can provide over an array of applications, from home and building control to healthcare and retail, and Ms. Marshall discussed the new landscape provided to Internet service companies via the deployment of home networks and residential gateways. Following the keynotes, CONNECTIONS™ 2002 Diamond (the Consumer Electronics Association) and Platinum (CompUSA, Echelon Corp., the Internet Home Alliance, National Semiconductor Corp., and Siemens Energy & Automation) sponsors joined Ron Zimmer and Tricia Parks for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening the CONNECTIONS™ Showcase.
On Wednesday, May 15, the educational sessions began early with keynote addresses from three major players in broadband provision, consumer electronics, and infrastructure. Tom Andrus, Vice President of Products and Services of EarthLink Inc., spoke of his Company's early efforts in selling value-added services to consumers through home networks and residential gateways. Dr. Paul Liao, President of Panasonic Technologies, urged attendees to clearly define and then match consumer desires and demands with technology solutions. Michael Noonen, Vice President, Wired Communication Division of National Semiconductor Inc., iterated the technology and market requirements for home networks and residential gateways. Following the keynotes, attendees spent the rest of the day in educational sessions - and they had plenty from which to choose! On Wednesday, CONNECTIONS™ provided 12 sessions, with topics on the realities of distributing home networking equipment, the venture capital perspective for the market, connected white goods, deploying voice/video/data over broadband, energy management solutions, device discovery and service aggregation software protocols, the home builder's role in home networking installation, and others. Larry Mondry, President of CompUSA and Wednesday's luncheon keynote speaker, provided a perspective on the emerging channels for distributing home networking at retail. The day ended with a bus tour of CompUSA's Digital Living Center.
Thursday, May 16, started with three educational sessions, which addressed SOHO networking opportunities, the outlook for "no-new-wires" networking solutions, and opportunities in the deployment of connectivity solutions for entertainment applications. The conference wrapped with three closing keynote addresses. Jeffrey Barco, CEO of Broadband Home Inc., asserted that the industry still needs to define a solid home networking solution that meets the requirements for multimedia distribution - a potentially huge market. James P. Devlin, President of Invensys Home Control Systems with Invensys plc, provided insight into how his Company is currently developing solutions that contribute increased comfort and control in the home. Bea Yormark, President and COO of Echelon Corp., gave an update on the world's largest deployment of narrowband networking solutions in Italy. Thursday also provided the opportunity for additional industry meetings, including CABA's Marketing and E-Business Committee and a HomeRF Working Group seminar.
Getting Real: One key takeaway from this year's CONNECTIONS™ theme expressed by many speakers and attendees is the urgent need to establish realistic business models and distribution chains to move home networking and residential gateway deployments from mere conjecture to reality. The positive news among these calls for action is that - in certain sectors - financial frameworks are being established. The industry, at least in certain aspects, appears to be taking "baby steps" toward building models that do work.
Home Networking Moves from Standalone to Adjunct Status: One also gets the sense that the industry is moving beyond simply selling boxes to securing a greater role within the household by providing services and value-added applications that meet well-defined consumer needs. This was evident from a number of speakers representing vastly different niches of the market (broadband Internet providers and home management solutions providers, for example). Home networks, it is envisioned, will someday serve as the "plumbing" through which any number of additional services will flow. The goal of many companies at present is to establish partnerships between and among a wide variety of players, to the benefit of all involved.
Standards, Standards, Standards. "The nice thing about standards," author Andrew Tanenbaum said, "is that there are so many to choose from." Although many eyes tend to either 1) glaze over or 2) roll at the mention of yet another home networking/residential gateway standards debate, it is clear that the establishment of consistent, transparent, and widely-accepted technology standards is of preeminent importance to the industry. This is particularly true among players in service provision and consumer electronics, who currently sit on the sidelines, unsure of the next step to take.
CONNECTIONS™ Says "Thanks!"CONNECTIONS™ would like to extend a Texas-sized "thank you" to the more than 50 exhibiting sponsors, two supporting organizations, and 24 supporting publications for their participation in and support of what has become the industry's largest, most important and focused executive conference and trade show for the home networking and residential gateway industries. We'll expect many happy returns in 2003, when CONNECTIONS™ will convene for the seventh consecutive year!