More companies pull out of OFC due to Covid-19 concerns – update

Created March 2, 2020
News and Business

Following Ciena and Lumentum’s announcements that they will not be participating in OFC this year due to growing concerns about the continued spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus, a number of other companies are following suit. These include Infinera, ADVA, Acacia, FujitsuNetwork Communications, OFS, Viavi, Source Photonics, Inphi, Nokia, Molex and Corning. Ciena said it was also pulling out of the Capacity Middle East expo, scheduled for 2nd -5th March in Dubai.

Tom Fallon, Infinera CEO said in a press statement, “We appreciate the event organizer’s action plans to lessen the coronavirus risk, but our decision not to attend this year is in line with other precautionary measures we have implemented to reduce the threat of exposure to our employees and mitigate the impact on our ability to serve our customers.”

Gary Smith, president and CEO of Ciena said in a statement, “We have made the decision to cancel our participation in all industry events for the next 30 days in order to safeguard the well-being of our employees, customers and partners. Although we are disappointed that we cannot continue with these events as planned, as they are important benchmarks for the industry, we believe this is the right decision under the circumstances and we look forward to participating in future events.”

In a similar statement, Alan Lowe, Lumentum’s president and CEO said, “Every year, we look forward to attending OFC to showcase our latest innovations and advancements in technology. However, our highest priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers, and partners. This year, due to the rapidly evolving coronavirus outbreak, we believe we can better serve all of our stakeholders by exercising an abundance of caution and not attending OFC.”

The show’s organisers have issued a statement saying they intend to proceed with the conference and expo, but the withdrawal of such major participants is bound to cast doubt over the event’s viability, particularly as many Chinese exhibitors will be unable to attend. According to press reports, the organisers are making arrangements to pre-record presentations from Chinese speakers who can’t attend, and companies such as Huawei will have representatives at the event, but will not have a booth on the show floor. In a statement issued on February 13th, OFC organisers said, “OFC Management recognises that exhibitors living in China, as of now, will have a difficult time participating in-person at OFC 2020 due to U.S. Government imposed travel or quarantine restrictions. To date, some Chinese exhibiting companies have determined that they will be unable to exhibit at all, while other Chinese exhibiting companies may utilise non-China based staff or sales representatives/distributors with knowledge of their products or services to represent them. OFC Management will continue to support OFC companies based in China on their options, and we thank them for this continued engagement.”

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.