Networks Telecom: A bruised industry licks its wounds

The network industry, stung by recent problems for suppliers and service providers, is gathering in Birmingham. And despite the gloom there are some positive signs

The effect of KPNQwest's bankruptcy will be felt by everyone at Networks Telecom in Birmingham, Europe's biggest networking show. Suppliers like Alcatel, Ciena, Cisco and Nortel will have to deal with a shortfall in revenue, and other service providers -- while racing to take KPNQwest's customers -- will be struggling to make ends meet. On the LAN, however, users will continue to adopt new technologies -- Fluke reports that the often-dismissed voice on IP is finally coming into its own as a means to save money, and backbones are continuing to take the Gigabit option. And for the similar reasons in the wide area, the virtual private network remains a growing option. "Because of the cost savings potential of VPNs, and general interest in security, the VPN market is still growing strongly despite a nearly two-year-old economic downturn," said Jeff Wilson, executive director of Infonetics Research, whose report, User Plans for VPN products and services predicts growth of 117 percent in VPN revenues by 2006 -- not as huge as in the glory days, but still impressive. Like most conferences, Networks Telecom will have special-interest zones covering fields such as security, storage networking and wireless, as well as the convergence of voice and data. An auditorium called the Hub will hold presentations and debates -- Wednesday and Thursday will include debates chaired by ZDNet UK Tech Update's own Rupert Goodwins, Jane Oliver and Eugene Lacey. Elsewhere at the show, the usual freebies, prizes and promos will be heavily in evidence. Times may be tougher but, it seems, vendors realise that nothing piques a network manager's interest more than crumbs of bribery, like the chance to win a PDA, or a trip to a sporting event.

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