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$639 vs. $2250: A tale of two conferences

30 May

It’s amazing what a difference a few days can make. Last week, the annual Mesh web conference took place here in Toronto and, by all accounts, attendees were quite satisfied.

The biggest problem, if there was one, was that some great panels overlapped each other. I really wanted to see Jesse Brown’s “How to Unsuck Canada’s Internet” discussion, for example, but it unfortunately took place at the same time as our adult entertainment panel. I’m told the event’s organizers couldn’t video record the sessions because of some crazy union rules at the venue, so alas, it will fall to the attendees and speakers to dribble out what may have been discussed. Jesse, for one, has promised a podcast on his talk. The Huffington Post Canada had a wrap-up of our porn session as did Financial Post tech reporter Matt Hartley with a story and podcast interview with yours truly.

This week, the annual Canadian Telecom Summit kicks off here in Toronto. I heard a few people discussing the upcoming event at Mesh and it’s probably safe to say it’ll attract a very different crowd. Asking Mesh attendees whether they were planning to go generally elicited guffaws.

This year’s Telecom Summit will boast speeches and discussions with big wigs from the likes of Bell, Rogers, Telus, Microsoft, the CRTC and even new Industry Minister Christian Paradis, and there’ll be panels on everything from the future of cloud computing to “delivering broadband to all.” However, almost completely missing from the slate: anyone representing consumer interests or companies that sometimes find themselves at odds with telecom companies.

John Lawford, a lawyer with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, will be sitting in on the “regulatory blockbuster” as usual, but beyond that there doesn’t appear to be anyone scheduled to speak on behalf of those interests for all three days of the event. No one from Google or Netflix and certainly no one from Open Media.

Covering the event, which I’ve done a few times, is thus a real yawner. Watching a bunch of industry executives back-slapping and high-fiving each other is hardly interesting – it tends to only be half a conversation, which is a stark contrast from Mesh where people who actually use and depend on telecommunications services get together and have lively discussions and debates.

Judging by the speakers and the rather big difference in admission prices – found in the headline above (guess which is which) – it’s pretty clear the Telecom Summit isn’t for actual users of telecom services.

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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in telecommunications

 

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