Internet firms connect in Baltimore 2,000 providers, others from online industry attend ISP conference

4-day event begins today

Convention Center's show tailored for East Coast firms

March 16, 1998|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

For a few days this week, Baltimore will be the unofficial capital of one of the world's hottest industries.

More than 2,000 Internet service providers (ISPs) and other online industry leaders will gather at the Baltimore Convention Center for ISPCON Spring '98.

The convention starts today and runs through Thursday.

Brian Noto of One Inc., the Littleton, Colo., company that puts on ISPCON, said, "This really is the meeting for ISPs. Every large ISP will be here."

That includes all the heavy hitters who are trying to ferry customers onto the Internet, such as GTE Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. In addition, the show will draw companies such as International Business Machines Corp. that are seeking to sell goods and services to ISPs.

In its first six years of existence, ISPCON was held as an annual event. This is the first year the show will be held twice.

There will be an ISPCON this fall in San Jose, Calif., but the show's organizers wanted to put the first convention closer to the many Internet-related companies that have sprung up on the East Coast.

Noto said the show will attract about 5,000 people. The show is designed for industry insiders; members of the public are welcome as long as they pay a $595 registration fee.

The show will occupy 40,000 square feet at the convention center, considerably more space than the 25,000 square feet ISPCON occupied at its last show, held in San Francisco in August.

Nancy Kaplan, a manager in the telecommunications department IBM, said her company wanted to come to ISPCON in order to sell providers on its electronic commerce services.

"We want to talk to them, and this is the place where we think they'll be," Kaplan said.

"My experience is that there won't be anybody signing on the dotted line at ISPCON," she explained, "but it's a chance to build relationships."

John Fontenot, director of marketing for Bridgewater Systems Corp. of Kanata, Ontario, said the conference was ideal for his company, which makes software that helps providers to customize and bill for their services.

"ISPCON is exactly the audience that we target," Fontenot said.

Pub Date: 3/16/98

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