Capacity’s milestones over the years


From the first issue and the first big conferences to the beginning of International Telecoms Week, and beyond, Alan Burkitt-Gray looks at two decades of Capacity.

The first issue of Capacity came out in October 2000, with a cover bearing the prescient line: “Telcos look out, look out, there’s a new threat about!”

Our first event, Capacity 2001, took place in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in “unseasonably cool” Atlanta at the end of March. “Join the leading telecom carriers as they speak out and provide their opinions on the latest developments in bandwidth trading,” said the brochure.

There were speakers from AT&T, France Telecom (now Orange), NTT and Telia International Carrier, but also 186k, Enron, Nortel, Storm, Thus and others.

The gold sponsors were Deloitte & Touche and Lucent Technologies, now long buried inside Nokia. Silver sponsors were Koch Global Bandwidth Services, created only in September 2000, and Williams Communications; both were spun out of energy companies.

Capacity Europe in London

The first Capacity Europe was in London in October 2001, “building on the outstanding success” of the US event earlier in the year. The following year, in June 2002, we launched the Metro Connect event in London.

It’s never been easier to pick up telecoms assets at a knock-down price, wrote Tim Phillips in the May/June 2002 issue. He listed 360networks, Pangea and Williams as “just three of the failure stories”.

Legal & General, the insurance company, said that half the US$750 billion invested worldwide had been wasted.

Judy Reed-Smith, head of Atlantic-ACM, wrote in October about spendthrift CEOs — people such as Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco International (he later went to jail for eight years) and Gary Winnick of Global Crossing, with a $90 million

Beverly Hills mansion. The October 2002 issue also included our first global directory, sponsored by Belgacom.

The first Metro Connect US was held in Washington DC in January 2003, with speakers from Procter & Gamble and eBay, plus AT&T, BellSouth, Level 3, Qwest, Telx, Worldcom and XO Communi-cations, plus the FCC.

In September 2005, TelCap and Capacity saw the beginning of a major change in ownership, when the Euromoney Institutional Investor group bought a 40% stake in the business, with the magazine and — by then — nine annual conferences.

Euromoney, quoted on the London Stock Exchange, is an international publishing, information and events group headquartered in London. It increased its stake to 100% by 2010, during which time TelCap — now Capacity Media — moved from Kingston to Euromoney’s offices in central London, and the founders, Rachel Jones and Mark Kemp, left the business.

By 2005 we were running Capacity Russia in Moscow, Capacity Asia in Hong Kong, Capacity Europe in Amsterdam, along with our Global Wholesale Telecommunications Awards, as they were then. Events on the calendar for the first half of 2006 included the Metro Connect USA, the first Capacity Middle East, plus Capacity Latam and Capacity Central and Eastern Europe.

The biggest expansion to Capacity’s line-up of events was in 2008, when several big carriers approached the team because they were unhappy with the existing annual Global Telecoms Meeting (GTM) event that Intelsat had run for 34 years.

With the support of Euromoney, TelCap took on the challenge, and put on the first International Telecoms Week (ITW) at the start of June, with only a few weeks’ notice. It ran in the Washington Hilton simultaneously with GTM, that went ahead, for one last time, elsewhere in Washington.

“It was a big thing when ITW started and opened itself up to more carriers and a lot of new players,” says Céline Grégoire, who was at Tata Communications. “ITW opened up the market a lot.”

Andrew Kwok, CEO of HGC Global Communications, agrees. “Entrance to GTM was very stringent, and new carriers had to go through a process of evaluation.” But it was run in an old-fashioned way: everyone had a physical mailbox and “to arrange meetings you had to use a piece of paper with a possible time and put it in the mailbox”, he says. That person would reply with a message, again on paper, put into your mailbox.

Back to Washington in 2021 ITW now attracts well over 7,000 people a year. It moved from Washington to Chicago, and last year was in Atlanta, home of the first Capacity conference. ITW 2021 will be in National Harbor, Maryland, on the Potomac, just south of Washington.

Ros Irving joined Capacity Media in 2009. She now leads Euromoney’s telecoms division, which includes recent acquisitions in the telecoms and technology area.

These include BroadGroup, founded in 2002 by Philip Low, with its flagship Datacloud Global Congress in Monaco; Layer123, launched in 2010 to run events on network innovation; and TowerXchange, which runs meetings on the cellular and broadcast tower industry worldwide. 




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