By John Duchemin
Advertiser Staff Writer
For decades, the Pacific Telecommunications Councils annual conference was one of the biggest events in Honolulu, but few people knew about it.
The council, which has its headquarters in Moiliili, has drawn thousands of the top minds in telecommunications to Honolulu every year since 1978 for high-level discussions of communications issues, problems and policies. But to the general public, the conference was largely unknown and aloof, said Hoyt Zia, the councils executive director.
When: Today through Wednesday
Where: Hilton Hawaiian Village
What: Meeting of Pacific Rim telecommunications companies and organizations from more than 50 nations.
Who: Speakers include Nobu-yuki Idei, chairman of Sony Corp.; Jung Uck Seo, Koreas minister of science and technology; William Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; and Mike Roberts, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names & Numbers
Why here: The Pacific Telecommunications Council has its headquarters in Honolulu and has held its annual conference here since 1978.
Webcasts: Some sessions are being webcast live on the Internet starting at 8:30 today.
This year, that traditional relationship may disappear. Thanks to improved public relations and a burgeoning local telecommunications sector, the conference has attracted more local attention than ever before.
"Not only are we reaching out more to the community, but people in Hawaii are starting to recognize us for what we are," Zia said.
No longer just a nice place to hold a conference, Honolulu has become a city full of potential serious business partners for conference goers, observers said.
"This show is unique because it draws lots of high-level decision makers, and theres a lot of networking that goes on, and lots of deals go down," said Linda Brock, director of marketing and communications for Pihana Pacific, a Honolulu company that is building a Pacific Rim network of Internet data centers.
"So all of our country managers are coming in; theyre all aware of customers in their markets who are attending the show," Brock said. "Its a real good time to bring our whole staff together."
Several other local businesses have become Pacific Telecommunications Council exhibitors in the last three years, setting up display booths alongside dozens of international companies including the Boeing Co., MCI WorldCom and Motorola. Local delegations to the conference also have increased, Zia said.
New local exhibitors to the show include telecom startups Wiki Telecom, Vision Accomplished and VideoPhone Plus Ltd. In addition, GST Telecom Hawaii, Time-Warner Cable and Verizon are attending, as are High Tech Hawaii and the city of Kapolei.
The conference also has embarked on a much-needed effort to attract local attention, Zia said. Though the conference itself is not open to the public, more than 200 community leaders have been invited to hear keynote speaker Sony Corp. Chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei at 4 p.m. today.
And on Thursday, about 20 international executives will start a three-day tour of Hawaiis technology scene. According to Zia, each of the tour-goers is considering locating a branch of their business in the Islands.
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