The communications infrastructure industry, and the professionals that serve it, are experiencing change and growth at rates never before seen. Survival will be tough without a thorough understanding of the major shifts happening across the industry. This theme reverberated at Metro Connect USA 2019. Hundreds of industry executives from around the globe gathered to discuss the lessons learned from 2018 and how they can prepare us for 2019 and the evolving landscape we will certainly experience.

With 3 days of panel discussions, networking events and exhibits, the amount of knowledge and discussions exchanged was limitless. The 600+ attendees enjoyed meeting with and learning from the six exhibiting companies: Communications Data Group (cdg), Ekipnops, 910Telecom, OSIGlobalIT and Pramata. Metro Connect also provided branding opportunities resulting in 20 sponsorships that the following companies took advantage of: Cox Business, Everstream Solutions, GTT, Zayo, Schneider Electric and Consolidated Communications. A complete list of the companies that sponsored the event, as well the event media partners, which included iMiller Public Relations, can be found here.

DE-CIX was a feature presentation on day one of the event, which was exclusive for industry executives. Ed d’Agostino, VP and General Manager of DE-CIX North America presented, “Peering Into Peering – How Direct and Remote Peering can Improve Network Performance and Enable Connectivity for IOT and IP Everything – Everywhere.” During the presentation, Ed provided an overview highlighting the benefits of direct and remote peering, including: one hop connectivity to non-local networks, extended redundant connectivity and lower/predictable latency. The importance of peering exchanges has never been more important as now, with the strong reliance of redundant and cost-effective internet connections growing at exponential speeds. DE-CIX’s dedication to improving connectivity led them to developing GlobePEER Remote, an additional service that allows for easy access to remote peering communities – reaching an even greater number of networks.

On Day 2, Chris McKee, General Counsel and Executive Vice President Corporate Development  GTT took part in a panel titled, “M&A Update: What Can be Learnt From 2018’s Biggest Deals?” The panelists, which included James Henry from Bank Street Group, Tim Biltz from Lumos Networks, Colby Synesael from Cowen & Co., and Marc Ganzi from Digital Bridge Holdings, discussed many aspects of M & A topics, including the biggest drivers for consolidation, buying and selling opportunities in non-conventional metro-assets and the factors investors use to decide if an acquisition will be beneficial versus the costs to build fiber. The industry has seen acquisitions this year that were two to three times above replacement costs. Crown Castle, Zayo and the recent deal with Bluebird Network were among the M&A’s discussed. McKee noted in one section of the panel that “it will be really interesting to see what happens in 2019” and we certainly agree.

On the last day of the conference, Ray LaChance, CEO and Co-Founder of ZenFi Networks, discussed the timeline of 5G and the challenges network providers face in a panel titled, “The Critical Role of Infrastructure in 5G Deployment.” The panelists, which included Bart Oskam from Eurofiber Group, Guillaume Crenn from Ekinops and John Nolan from AT&T was moderated by Jennifer Fritzche from Wells Fargo Securities. The esteemed participants acknowledged the arrival of 5G, advising that the software has been tested and carriers are preparing their plans to flip the switch on their 5G networks in the first half of 2019, with Verizon and AT&T at the forefront.

Each day of Metro Connect featured networking opportunities for attendees. GTT sponsored the Wednesday evening networking reception, held outside on the lawn where you could hear the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean coupled with industry executive chatter. Not affiliated with the event directly and immediately following the official event functions, 1025Connect hosted guests onboard the luxurious 100+ foot yacht, Babieca. Guests were given a red carpet welcome and an opportunity to be photographed with friends as they boarded. Once the participants had embarked, 1025Connectalong with partners Aqua Comms, DE-CIX and Epsilonprovided fun, food and fare in a festive environment. Without a doubt, these evening entertainments were fit for Kings and Queens. Hoping next year is as much fun.

Needless to say, Metro Connect USA has positioned itself as one of the premier events in the global wholesale telecommunications space with its focus on finance, investments, regional networks and 5G enablement.  The Capacity Media team artfully brings together C-level executives, industry leaders and network operators along with analysts and investors to address the burgeoning issues the industry collectively faces. We look forward to seeing everyone at Metro Connect USA 2020.