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TIA's Flanigan: Globalcomm's Bigger

In the raging competition between Globalcomm and TelecomNext, the two offspring of Supercomm, the organizers of Globalcomm say they are already winning.

During a visit with Light Reading, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) President Matt Flanigan said that Globalcomm, scheduled to begin June 5 in Chicago, is nearly sold out.

Globalcomm will cover 190,000 square feet and include 500 exhibiting companies, says Flanigan. He says this makes the show roughly twice as big as rival United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) ’s TelecomNext show, held in March in Las Vegas. (The USTA said, in March, that it had 275 exhibitors and used 215,000 square feet of exhibit space; see What's Next for TelecomNext?)

The USTA begged to differ, and issued this statement: "TelecomNEXT is about the new converged communications landscape—where the business and technology of communications and entertainment meet," says a USTA spokeswoman. "It’s a new kind of show that really can’t be compared to a supplier tradeshow. We are pleased with exhibitor comments and news reports that reflect the incredible success, buzz and energy of the inaugural TelecomNEXT show."

The TIA and the USTA split last year after partnering for nearly 20 years on the Supercomm tradeshow. The rivalry between the two shows has been the subject of much discussion, because many companies say the shows are forcing them to split their marketing budgets, and a few feel that eventually only one may survive. So far, Light Reading polls have show that Globalcomm has an edge (See LR Poll: Tradeshows Battle for '07 Audience ). (Disclosure: CMP Media, the owner of Light Reading has a business relationship with Globalcomm.)

Flanigan said the nature of the split was financial. He said that the USTA was being paid a fixed fee to help run the show, and that after the telecom market degraded in 2001, the revenues for the show no longer supported the fee to be paid to the USTA. The TIA, in fact, almost went broke because of the arrangement, said Flanigan.

”The TIA got zero dollars in the last two years of Supercomm,” says Flanigan. “We almost went out of business. We fixed that, though, and now we’re back.”

Even if his show is a big success, Flanigan acknowledges that he has heard from his constituency that they are not happy about having to support two major tradeshows. “The majority are going to both events,” he says. “Companies are going to look at this and ask where they got the biggest bang for their buck. We know we have to prove this."

Flanigan says Globalcomm will also live up to its name by being more global in nature. He says the show is expecting attendees and exhibitors from as many as 100 countries.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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