OFC 2020: Insights in a COVID-19 Environment

In our industry, staying up-to-date on cutting edge technologies is more important now than ever. Operating in a COVID-19 environment has driven the demand for data and tested the need for reliable networks more than ever before. As a part of our research into trends and technologies, we typically attend the annual Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference. OFC is the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals. It’s where we not only get a feel for what is technically on the horizon, but what everyone’s buzzing about.

This year’s show was a bit different, shadowed by COVID-19 and what it meant for the industry. Months before the show, exhibitors understandably started pulling back as the week of the conference drew closer. While we were still committed to attend, we were unsure what to expect. Walking out onto the conference floor was breathtaking. We found it a stark contrast to OFCs from years prior. On day 1 of the show, we felt like about 40% of the exhibits were missing and it was striking as to how much attendance was down.

But it turns out, it was not all doom and gloom. A normally hectic show schedule now allowed time to really talk with different vendors about emerging technology and their differentiating factors. We found time to get hands-on with lots of test and measurement equipment, inspect many new products, and dive into roadmaps. The number of component suppliers with domestic resources is very encouraging. While so many opted out of this year’s conference, as a domestic supplier, Integra’s attendance strengthened our perspective on how to minimize supply chain interruption and keep our customers supplied.

The conference is always projecting an excitement about innovation, but we paid attention to strengthening the networks of today as well as planning for the technologies of the future. With so many Americans working from home as they are able to, the communications infrastructure is feeling the weight. So, project planners definitely have ample justification to focus on infrastructure. Luckily, Integra Optics has an impressive domestic inventory of transceivers, jumpers, and passive filters to help support this initiative. If you’re a Software as Service, Online Retailer, or have any type of E-commerce, it’s not a bad plan to speed things up and add capacity.