This year's Telecom World show may not be as big or influential as previous ones, but the event is still a good personal networking opportunity for experts in the telecommunications industry.
The week-long conference and exhibition, which opens Monday in Hong Kong for the first time, is the world's largest public networking event. But the show, hosted every three years by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, has clearly gone through some turbulent times, mirroring the industry it represents.
European equipment manufacturers such as Siemens AG, which once dominated exhibition halls with expansive multimillion dollar booths, have been pushed aside by aggressive Asian newcomers such as Huawei Technologies.
But it's not only Asian competitors that have made life tough for traditional telephone equipment vendors such as Alcatel SA and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson; it's also competition from makers of Internet systems, notably Cisco Systems Inc., which have helped build the first-generation IP (Internet Protocol) networks and are busy deploying the next-generation networks.
Add to that the explosive growth of new mobile phone networks, which in many countries have bumped traditional landline telephone service to the sidelines.
And add on top of that innovative new wireless technologies such as WiMax, which could outmuscle cellular to become the preferred next-generation mobility system, so-called 4G (fourth-generation) technology.
So there's plenty to talk about, and numerous industry executives, including Masao Nakamura, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of NTT DoCoMo, John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco and Edward Zander, chairman and CEO of Motorola, are on board to present their views of the future in a number of forums.
Organizers expect up to 57,000 visitors to attend Telecom World 2006, between Dec. 4 and 8, compared to the 102,000 visitors that attended the last Telecom World show, held in Geneva in 2003. The ITU expects 60 percent of visitors at this year's show to come from Asia and the Middle East.
"The ITU event may be smaller than events in the past, but it's still a good venue for personal networking," said Tim Dillon, senior research director at Current Analysis. "My calendar is completely full of appointments, if that means anything."