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ICA Education Committee Goes on the Road to Keep Members Up to Date on Major Changes in the Industry.

The rap of the gavel by the ICA president on a Monday morning in early May will echo throughout the spacious--but packed--ballroom of the Las Vegas Hilton to open the International Communications Association's 37th and largest annual conference, and the first one in the new world of telecommunications.

What follows the opening will be four days of intense learning by ICA members--both in the seminars and on the floor of the exhibits at the nearby Las Vegas Convention Center.

The 3200-room Hilton will be the focal point for the Monday morning opening general assembly, all "featured presentations," luncheons and most social functions.

Education has been one of the guiding principles of ICA for its nearly four decades of existence, with efforts to find more and better ways to educate the present 1300 members representing some 540 member companies. Until recent years, the annual conference has been the main vehicle for educating these communications managers. Growth, while welcomed, has caused ICA to look for additional vehicles, such as the increasing emphasis on the Professional Development and Short-Course programs (see story on following pages concerning one of the most recent seminars held in three cities.)

ICA President Jack Fetzer (Lockheed) explains that the peer contact is a particularly important element of the association's purpose. "I think that most of our members would agree that the interfacing with other people in the same job in probably the single greatest benefit they gain from an organization like ICA," he says. "It's what they learn from each other."

Fetzer points out, "I think we will see a trend toward more interim seminars and conferences than we've had in the past. We may expand beyond one interim seminar a year to give us more time to exchange ideas, views and experiences on more-specific subjects, rather than just a big general conference once a year."

Jim Sobczak (Bank of America), chairman of the Program Committee, emphasizes the educational aspect of the conference by noting that more than 60 sessions will be held over the four days, some dealing with the broader, major issues affecting all ICA members, and many others on more-specific topics.

Featured presentations, those of broad interest and held without conflicting sessions, will focus on five major topics of the day. The first, on the impact of the AT&T divestiture, will include a panel representing users, regulators and consultants discussing the impact from their different perspectives. Emphasis will be on the four months of actual experience in the new environment.

Another featured session, on the deregulation of AT&T, will explore the increasing competition in long-distance services and the issue of regulation of inter-LATA services. A panel representing competing carriers, AT&T and both federal and state regulatory agencies will discuss the pros and cons of totally deregulating these services.

On Tuesday morning, ICA members will look at "Emerging Technologies in Telecommunications," with this featured session concentrating on the spectacular developments expected to affect telecommunications during the next decade. Advice will be offered on how users can prepare themselves, their companies and their profession.

On Wednesday morning, Bob Bennis (Westinghouse) and his Public Policy Committee will review the current issues and the positions taken by ICA on the legislative and regulatory fronts.

The final featured presentation, on Thrusday morning, will look at the next five years in office automation by offering discussions on the various elements, such as hardware, applications and word processing. Speakers will also identify key trends and issues.

The remainder of the extensive program follows the past year's format of two-hour tutorials, one-hour mini-tutorial, one-hour workshops and one-hour buzz sessions, as well as some special sessions.

The topics span the spectrum of telecommunications, with tutorials covering cellular radio, integrated services digital networks, digital communications technology, local-area networks, electronic key systems and small PBXs, voice and data integration and an introduction to data communications.

Mini-tutorials include sessions on bypass, virtual tie lines, transmission consideration for corporate networks, integrated data bases for telecom management, internal marketing of telecommunications, determining the stability of a vendor, networking of word processors and personal computers, X.25 issues and options, financial analysis of projects, an overview of the seven regional Bell companies, an introduction to data network design and IBM's communications activities (closed session).

Workshop topics will include telecom planning, digital carrier systems, muxes/concentrators/processors, metropolitan private microwave, fiber-optic systems, videoconferencing, telecom in Central and South America, data traffic monitoring, local-area networking, centralized telephone service centers, telephone training techniques, in-house cabling, on-line directory systems, voice-messaging systems and management of voice trouble-reporting.

A baker's dozen of buzz sessions will include informal meetings dealing with the integration of EDP and telecommunications, contract negotiations, Dimension System 85, integrated backbone networks, staying informed, public packet data networks and intercity carriers, among others.

ICA has been becoming more involved in matters beyond the US borders, giving truer meaning to the "International" in its name. Last year, ICA became a member of INTUG, the International Telecommunications USers Group. Past President Bernard Overeynder (Xerox) has been serving as the ICA representative, working on one of the committees coordinating the Integrated Digital Services Network (ISDN) planning that's going on at CCITT.

ICA's JAck Fetzer says, "I think that will be the principal area of our involvement, to see that both the American companies and, to the extent possible, all the foreign PTTs put together an ISDN that's compatible and serves the needs of users as well as PTTs.

A Wednesday morning session will offer an INTUG perspective on data services in the United Kingdom. Other international-issues sessions will include international message refilling, ISDNs and deregulation in England.

Centrex will have its own special session on Wednesday, May 9, at 2:20 in the afternoon. Actually, it's the first national meeting of the various Centrex user groups, with reports from the chairpersons of the different organizations having vested interest in where Centrex is headed. The session will be led by Roger Underwood, former ICA president recently retired communications manager at Raychem. According to Underwood, the session "will be informal to allow a free flow of information among the participants." Among those taking part will be representatives from Bell Communications Research (formerly the Central Services Organization), Teleco Research Corporation, regional Bell operating companies and the General Services Administration (which certainly has a strong interest in Centrex, considering the GSA has 438 systems with 400,000 lines nationwide!).

Close to 250 manufacturers and suppliers will be on hand in the convention center for the record-size exposition of telecommunications equipment and services. Exhibit hours are from 9:30 am to 6 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and from 9:30 to 12:30 pm on Thursday. For a booth-by-booth preview of the exhibits, see CN's April issue, pages 62 through 78.

ICA's Jack Fetzer points out, "We're somewhat overwhelmed by the growth of the exhibits during the past two or three years. We welcome it; that's a key part of the annual conference." He also notes a 30-percent growth in the square footage of the exhibits over last year in Anaheim. "The real challenge to us this year," he says, "is to find out how to give people enough time to spend in the exhibits."

As always, there'll be some time for some socializing and entertainment after long days of seminars and exploring the exhibits. This year's conference will "officially" begin with the traditional Sunday evening reception hosted by Siemens, followed by the RCA dinner-dance. Western Union provides the Monday evening fun and food, with Sherry and Racal-Milgo making it a memorable evening on Tuesday. Lane Telecommunications will show ICA members what Western hospitality is all about on Wednesday night, while Northern Telecom's Thursday evening reception will set the scene for the ICA annual Fellowship Dinner that follows to wind down this year's week-long conference.

To get the days off to a good start, breakfasts will be sponsored by Extel, MCI, SBS and GTE Sprint, while luncheon hosts will include AT&T and British Telecom International.

CN's June issue will have a huge report of the annual conference, complete with reports on the seminars and other sessions, a recap of what was on display in the exhibits and, as always, hundreds of photos. Watch for yours!
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Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 1984
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