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ORLANDO, FL -- Despite hotel operators who routinely tell you to "have a magical day" each time you use a telephone...

February 1, 2002  

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ORLANDO, FL — Despite hotel operators who routinely tell you to “have a magical day” each time you use a telephone, it is still possible to have a good time at a conference in Walt Disney World.

Or so thought a good number of the 3,000 cabling and telecom professionals who gathered from January 21 to 24 to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL for the 30th annual BICSI Winter Conference.

While the telecom organization’s numbers were down from its record showing of 3,800 at last year’s event, the numbers were much in line with its showing in 2000. The number of Canadian visitors dropped this year as well — down to 94 from the 200 Canadian attendees in 2001.

“One reason for this is the state of the economy,” noted Porter, Region 5 Director for BICSI, who noted that the numbers were still a very good showing for BICSI. “The other reason might have to do with the fact that we are holding an extra North American conference (Quebec) in 2002 and many people might be opting to attend that one.”

But those who did attend the Orlando were met with a conference that seemed to be “all about business” this year. While there was still a good deal of “schmoozing” in the bar after hours, many companies were definitely feeling the pinch (make that squeeze) of a bad economic situation. This seemed to result in more “working” lunches and booth meetings in favour of the usual slew of parties and concerts — definitely a sign of the times.

Of course, as things change in the outside world, so do they within BICSI. At this conference, attendees were introduced to BICSI’s new president (John Payseur), president-elect (Russ Oliver) and executive director (Al Feaster).

“Thank you for the ride — it was truly a great one,” noted outgoing president Richard Powell at BICSI’s annual business meeting.

John Payseur, who is Powell’s successor for the 2002-2003 term, was also on hand to tell attendees about his ” high goals” for the organization over the next few years. He spoke at length about what he called the organization’s main areas of focus: education, publications, registration and conferences.

Concerning education, Payseur said the BICSI curriculum must become easier for members to obtain. “Our international membership has taught us that educational programs aren’t easy for everyone to take,” he said, adding that he plans to adjust the pricing scheme of BICSI education outside of the United States.

Other plans for education include establishing a satellite training centre and growing BICSI’s college curriculum into ten states by the end of 2003.

In terms of registration, Payseur has several objectives: to increase the value of installation registrations within the industry; add a wireless specialty to the RCDD program; and convert all BICSI exams into an online format.

Paysuer’s aim when it comes to the translation side of things is to continue translating all of the BICSI manuals into the dominant languages of regional members: Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese. “No longer will we expect people to rely on English,” he noted.

His blueprint with regard to conferences included adding pre-conference and conference training, increasing the content and value of U.S. regional meetings, and moving the Caribbean conference to Miami from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In addition to the Powell-Payseur change, Al Feaster stepped in to take the reigns as BICSI Executive Director from Jay Warmke, who is leaving the position he has held since 1992 to relocate to Europe.

“The international environment is the future of BICSI and the future of our industry, and Europe represents the greatest potential I think of any single region within the BICSI environment,” noted Warmke at a press briefing during the show. “It also represents the greatest challenge to BICSI in that regard as well.”

His plans will include working to build up BICSI within Europe, supporting activities in the UK, and helping to take “the global entity of BICSI and bring it in and tailor it to local marketplaces.”

In addition to BICSI “business”, the Winter Conference included a comprehensive conference program with topics that ran the gamut from firestopping to fiber optics to non-competing telecom organizations.

And 202 exhibitors — roughly the same number as last year — from all areas of the telecom and cabling arena were also on hand to showcase their cabling products and services.

Trends swayed to fiber offerings, firestopping products and a more than usual number of residential products. For instance, Pass & Seymour/Legrand introduced a modular home network bracket, designed to manage a variety of low voltage applications in one central location. And Fluke Networks Inc. announced that it will expand the Microtools line of handheld diagnostic tools. Designed by Microtest for residential cable installers, Microtools will be repackaged under Fluke’s line of “SuperVision Solution products.

Also on the residential front, BICSI’s new Residential Network Cabling Manual was hot off the presses at the conference. And the organization’s new residential training course — RES150: Residential Network Cabling — also kicked off during the show.

Outside of the show floor, BICSI Cares — the charitable arm of the organization — was raising funds for the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. BICSI Cares raised US29,000 for the centre, which supports children with cancer or chronic blood disorders and their families.

Those who missed this event can make plans to attend BICSI’s spring conference will be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, NV from May 6 to 9, 2002.

BICSI will also be holding a Canadian conference in Quebec City from September 16 to 19. Full CEC credits will be given to attendees of the conference, and all presentations will be simultaneously translated in English and French.

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