OFC 2000 takes a quantum leap

March 20, 2000
In lines that stretched far down the block, attendees at the Optical Fiber Communications (OFC) conference (March 5-10; Baltimore, MD) waited to fill the exhibit halls.

In lines that stretched far down the block, attendees at the Optical Fiber Communications (OFC) conference (March 5-10; Baltimore, MD) waited to fill the exhibit halls. The official tally won't be known for several weeks, but the Optical Society of America (OSA), which ran the conference, estimates the number of attendees at greater than 16,000 and probably more than 17,000. In either case, these numbers represent an increase of at least 50% from 1999.

Inside the halls, 475 companies had exhibit booths. The scale of the meeting left everyone a bit awestruck as it far exceeded that of past shows and reflected the attention and attendance of many analysts and venture capitalists.

The size raises difficulties for the conference next year, which is scheduled for The Moscone Center in San Francisco (March 10-15). Exhibit space is already sold out—as many OFC 2000 exhibitors discovered to their chagrin. Several corporations took even larger booths than this year and so small booth space quickly disappeared. To accommodate some of the demand, the OSA is making use of the ballroom at Moscone and has placed at least one large company in it. The OSA is also looking for other venues in the city to host some of the conference. As one OSA staff member explained, "Who could have predicted five years ago when we contracted for the space that this growth would happen?—W. Conard Holton

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