I've been going to tradeshows for more than 25 years, but despite being a seasoned veteran, I'm excited to be going to my first-ever IWCE, because nothing quite frames an industry like its key event. Love ‘em or hate ‘em tradeshows almost always offer a great opportunity to gauge an industry and — with the right attitude and attention — come away with a ton of insight. How are companies branding themselves? What taglines or product capabilities are prominent throughout the event? Which technology sessions are packing them in? Which new products and booths are drawing the most attention? Which companies didn't show up? IWCE offers a wealth of market information, and that's not even counting all the “underground” communications: the networking and rumor-milling that are staples of a strong industry event.

In talking with my IWCE colleagues, pre-registration numbers are up over last year, so it looks like we're turning the corner on the malaise that has affected much of the communications industry. That's good news for all of us — publishers, vendors and readers. Even in daunting industry times, key issues and new technologies don't go away and this is an industry facing a lot of key funding, technology and regulatory challenges. IWCE is a great venue to see how all of this is playing out right now, in real time.

I'll be there from opening bell to the last round and hope to meet as many of you as possible. One thing for sure when I walk away from this event: I'll have a much keener understanding of the technologies, companies and issues that define the LMR and private wireless business — not a bad return on investment from my point of view.

FCC — Dragus Buttus

Even publications are small democracies where you can find people on both sides of an important issue. Glenn Bischoff, MRT's editor, recently wrote in his e-newsletter column about the importance of the FCC getting its 800 MHz ruling right the first time and not rush to a ruling that we all could come to regret. Glenn's right, it is complex stuff that affects our entire industry BUT from where I sit it needs a greater sense of urgency. The FCC should only contemplate its navel for so long — it's been long enough — then do its job and resolve the interference that plagues the 800 MHz band, a vital lives-are-at-risk issue. Having worked in telecom for the past 17 years, I've witnessed the glacial pace at which the FCC can move and still not resolve key issues and concerns even when they do rule. So folks at the FCC, it's time to get in the harness and pull the ruling plow; everyone in the field needs your thoughtful plan of action — sooner rather than later.