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ICA plans to pursue Latin American market.

Pass the salsa. There's going to be a strong "South of the Border" flavor as the ICA (International Communications Association) kicks off its 1994 Conference in Dallas, May 16-20.

Gus Bender, senior vice president and annual conference chairperson for ICA, says he wants ICA to take a "hemishperic view" of telecommunications, bringing all of Mexico and Latin America into the ICA conference.

"ICA is trying to support NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and many ICA members are expanding their businesses into Mexico and Latin America," he notes. "We need to educate our members, and we need to bring Latin American distributors to the conference so our members are familiar with who is operating down there and what products and services they offer."

Theme of this year's conference is Application Ready Global Information Highways. Each of the conference's education highways is a group of sessions organized into application areas. The freeways--customized for individual conference registrants--will cut across the highways to identify sessions pertaining to specific technologies.

"We've got to have global information highways that are ready to carry any application wihtout being customized or having capacity added," Bender says. "There will be over 80 sessions plus eight full or half-day tutorials at the Conference. There will be special programs for the International Forum, programs aimed at multinational interests and international carriers."

A new special educational program on telecomm in Mexico is one of the tracks--or Information Highways, as they are called this year. "ICA has an initiative to expand into Mexico and Latin America," Bender says.

Bender attended Mexicom '94 in Mexico City to talk to the Mexican Telecommunications Professionals about ICA. "We had over 3,000 people come by the ICA booth," he says. He also hit a Miami conference on Latin America to do the same thing.

Bender notes the move to privatization in countries like Peru, where two telcos are opening up to foreign investment. Bender says ICA is exploring the idea of Canadian, Mexican and British pavilions at the Conference.

"ICA is going to play an important role in the telecommunications and information systems of the whole Latin American market," Bender says. "We want to promote education and information exchange both ways."

Payback for ICA members has been good. Although dues increased from $500 to $750 last year, ICA picked up more than 50 new member companies. "People are joining for the roster, to get the peer-to-peer directory (which lists members by telecomm or computer skills) and for our public policy work," Bender says.

ICA figures the work done last year by the public policy committee was instrumental in returning an average of $4 million in savings to each of the 680 member firms.

Bender is second vice president of telecomm at The Travelers Insurance Companies, Hartford, Conn. He joined The Travelers after working for Southern New England Telephone in the marketing and engineering group. He worked on The Travelers account and joined the firm in 1971. His current responsibilities include managing the department which does development engineering for voice and data hardware/software, equipment selection and system design.

He is responsible for LANs, teleconferencing, voice mail, voice processing, wireless voice and data, PBX/ACD and communications software. He is a member of the IIA/AMIS inter-vendor voice mail specifications steering committee, co-founder and past-president of the Connecticut Telecom Association, past-president of the Communications Managers Association and has chaired a number of ICA seminars.

Still, he is looking to identify new and increased services for ICA member companies and for ICA partners--manufacturers and service providers.

Bender hopes to sponsor research and focus groups where members will benefit from insight and influence in vendors' projects and the vendors will gain access to a select group of Fortune 1000 companies who may not be their customers.

Proceeds from the projects would benefit the ICA scholarship and public policy funds. Harder to put a price tag on would be the decrease in number of vendor surveys and questionnaires members would face.

Bender says ICA is trying to develop renewed close relationships with the LECs (local exchange carriers) as they move into a competitive environment.

Next year's ICA Conference will be June 11-15 in Chicago, returning to Dallas in 1996.
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Title Annotation:ICA Preview; International Communications Association
Author:Harler, Curt
Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 1994
Previous Article:Wireless communications with a human face.
Next Article:ITCA to showcase interoperability.

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