Earlier this week, the Fiber Broadband Association hosted Fiber Connect 2019, our annual meeting that brings together some of the top minds in fiber broadband and showcases products and services from vendors around the world. This year the event was hosted on June 3-5 at the Gaylord Palms in beautiful Orlando, Fla., and the theme “Fiber: We Are the Difference” was at the forefront of all the programming.
Before the conference officially kicked off, attendees had access to educational sessions exploring how to implement fiber infrastructure. These Fiber Broadband Starter Kit workshop sessions covered fiber-to-the-home basics, how to build fiber partnerships (both publicly and privately) and how to manage fiber broadband installation. They were accompanied by breakout “Nuts and Bolts” demonstrations where presenters conducted hands-on demonstrations of products related to fiber optic deployment and connectivity.
On Monday, the audience heard from FBA Chairman of the Board Kevin Morgan and FBA President and CEO Lisa R. Youngers. Both underlined how the need for fiber is accelerating, and how investing in it can be transformative for all of those involved.
“For many communities, fiber is an economic difference,” Morgan said in his opening address. “Our research shows that fiber-fed cities have an additional $1.4 billion GDP over other similarly positioned cities. Fiber is the difference for more innovation, more infrastructure, more investments and more companies relocating and expanding in these communities.”
On the first day of the conference, attendees heard from keynote speaker Matthew Gunnin, CEO and founder of Esports One, on how fiber can transform the esports industry by enabling high-speed, low latency connectivity for gamers. Other keynotes throughout the conference included Memo Doring, senior technical evangelist at Amazon Web Services; Chad Rupe, acting administrator for rural utilities service at USDA Rural Development; Adam Zuckerman, emerging technology and future of work strategist; and Glenn Wellbrock, director of optical transport network architecture at Verizon. All hit on the importance of fiber for the future growth of technology, education and innovation in the world. Throughout the week, attendees were also treated to breakout sessions addressing rural fiber funding, how fiber spurs economic development and in-depth explorations of technical applications surrounding broadband deployment.
About 1,500 attendees visited the conference this year. Some were seasoned veterans of the conference, while others were visiting for the first time. Among them was Derek R. Eubanks of OnPoint Broadband, based in Corbin, Ky. It was his first Fiber Connect and he was not disappointed.
“Everything I’ve been to is really informative,” he said while exploring Fiber Connect’s expansive expo floor. “It’s been good. I’ve learned a lot about new products and new information here.”
International attendees said they were drawn to Fiber Connect because of the opportunities to learn and stay ahead of the game. Dereck Oikawa and Adam Budd, both from Aecon Construction Group in Ontario, Canada, said the breadth of information offered at the conference this year is important for them to stay on top of trends and technology that affect their own fiber deployment.
“In Canada, we want to be fast followers,” Oikawa said. “It’s been great—it’s a good convergence of technology and regulation and application. It’s interesting to see where we might be in the future.”
Next year, be sure to catch Fiber Connect 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Look for more information in the coming months.