CommunicAsia ends with visitors wanting more

Merri Mack walks us through the major news of those who moved and shook at CommunicAsia.

CommunicAsia's organisers tallied up 68,000 visitors to the largest technology fest in Asia as it closed its doors at the end of last week. Exhibitors were still busy on most stands and visitors seemed loath to leave the Expo.

Of course it would not be CommunicAsia without the launch of new technologies that could be the next big winners. Kabel-X and Infinera are two vendors who have been gaining mindshare and airtime as the result of their innovative technology.

The Kabel-X technology replaces underground copper cables with fibre optic cables with out the need to excavate. It is said to reduce telecommunication, cable-TV, power supply and railway operator's costs by up to 80 percent with the added benefit of replacing the copper at five times the speed of the conventional method of digging. And even better you get to salvage the copper as well.

Simon MacDonald, managing director and co-founder, Kabel-X said, "We are talking to every major carrier in the region. With 23 million kilometers of copper alone in Asia there is a huge opportunity. It's fibre or nothing for the future. I liken our technology to keyhole surgery for cable operators.

Infinera which has just gone through the most successful IPO on NASDAQ this year was attracting a well-informed audience who knew what its technology meant for carriers and network operators alike.

Three years of research that cost in the order of US$300 million and a lot of skeptics saying they would not succeed has resulted in its innovative digital optical networks technology based on large-scale photonic integrated circuits on one tiny chip with a throughput of 100 Gigabits per second. Aimed at carrier's carriers, the company has 20 announced customers already and is making a concerted push into APAC.

It will shortly announce its first customer in this region in Japan. Simon Naylor heads up the APAC region and is actively talking to the Australian carriers. Leigh Wade, Technical director said, "With 16 million hours of field testing, the technology did not fail. Carriers can save on capex and opex as planning is simpler, maintenance is far less costly and economies of scale are superior." Expect to hear more about Infinera and its technology.

Intelsat, a global fixed satellite service company has announced that BC partners, an international private equity company are taking a 76% stake in the company with Zeus retaining a 24 % stake. Speaking at CommunicAsia, David Ball regional VP, Asia pacific said, "The transaction is very reassuring as it is validation of our strategic direction. BC wants us to continue what we are doing. It could have been distracting if other rumoured equity partners had succeeded. Intelsat is happy it is BC and excited the existing shareholders remain."

The deal is expected to be concluded in six to nine months. Meanwhile it's business as usual with the planned seven satellites under construction and replacement program continuing.

Tandberg's exhibition garnered non-stop action even if visitors to the stand were a little shy of seeing their every facial expression and mannerism up on the many different screens on the stand. Tandberg demonstrated its PC videoconferencing product Movi which enables people to communicate visually anywhere in an organisation whether they are working from home or on the road.

"Collaboration is the key to individual and organisational performance, but being there in person is not always possible. Natural communication enabled by video is driving productivity and revenue, while reducing cost," said Lars Ronning, president, North and South East Asia, ANZ and India for Tandberg.

"Just imagine what impact it is having on cutting down on carbon emissions too when people don't have to get in their cars or fly to meetings," said Ronning.

One of Intelsat's biggest customers is Hughes Network Systems, a satellite infrastructure supplier who has supplied Ericsson with 30,000 satellite routers and dishes for the delivery of Telstra's broadband services to regional areas. At CommunicAsia, Dave Rehbeln, senior director, Marketing International Division keenly spruiked the company's success in facilitating the hot new area of digital signage for giant retailers such as Tesco and Wal-Mart. "This is just one more area where satellite broadband services can make a dynamic difference," said Rehbeln.

Richard Benefatto, sales manager Wireless, Huber+Suhner has noticed that there is a much greater emphasis on WiMAX this year at CommunicAsia. He attributes this to the current Singaporean Government's push to Fibre to the home (FTTH).

"The second day of CommunicAsia was our busiest day with a diversity of people representing all countries in the region visiting our stand. If I had to rate the quality of the visitors out of 10, I would say around 7.5," said Benefatto.

Benefatto's sentiments were echoed by other exhibitors who generally said the quality of people was definitely up on previous years.

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