[HSSG] September Interim
Tom, Steve and Frank,
I thought I would take this opportunity to clear up some misconceptions
about how Interims are planned. Generally, we try to look as far out as
possible, given the number of projects underway, and their likely ballot
requirements. When the WG has stable TF, it is usually fairly easy to
estimate the requirements for an Interim. If a company volunteers to host
the meeting, they usually pick the city and the venue, e.g. the May Interim
in Austin, graciously hosted by Vitesse. The host also assumes the risk for
any penalties if the meeting falls below the contracted minimums. This can
represent a substantial amount of money.
If we can't find a host, then we try to move the meetings around to try to
spread out the travel burden. We also try not to go to a city that will have
a Plenary during that year---Denver (March) and Dallas (November) in 2006.
We have a set of requirements for the hotel itself:
2. Room rate and meeting space
3. Infrastructure (network) and costs
4. Location (near restaurants, etc.)
5. Costs for food and beverage service
For 802.3, Item 3 is very important---and it also limits our choices. We're
still a few years away from all hotels having a good networking
infrastructure, but things are improving.
We started looking for venues after the March 2006 meeting and the creation
of the 10G EPON SG. Eastern Canada was our target since the rotation would
put us in eastern North America, and it had been a few years since we had
been there. Almost 50% of the hotels failed on dates or infrastructure
during the first contact.
Now to the heart of the matter---most everything else is on that list is
subject to negotiation. And the first thing that any hotel wants is an exact
specification of your meeting--how many room nights, how many rooms, what
sort of food service...everything. They want to negotiate and sign a
contract right now.
We knew that a CFI might be in play for July, and that it might add a large
but unknown number to the September meeting. If we had estimated a large
meeting and signed contract in April, and the CFI was cancelled or failed in
802.3, then we would be on the hook for a room block that we would not meet,
along with tens of thousands of dollars in penalties. We can't afford to
plan with that level of risk. The hotels will work with you on changes of
The alternative was to do what we did---keep the lines of communication open
and hope that the space would still be there. It wasn't. We had backup plans
in play, and Knoxville was the one that met our needs. The major hotel
chains have central databases that make this much easier than it was even
two years ago.
Air connections to Knoxville are comparable to those to Austin---not all of
us live in places with direct flights to everywhere! The hub cities also
suffer from an obvious problem---they are more expensive (and usually are
booked years in advance). One of my goals is to plan the most cost-effective
meetings possible, with a reasonable room rate and as low a meeting fee as
possible. There are a lot of very nice smaller cities---and Knoxville is one
I'd like to request that any further comments on this be addressed to me, so
as not to burden the reflector with off-topic posts.
Steven B. Carlson
Executive Secretary, IEEE 802.3 Working Group
High Speed Design, Inc.
11929 NW Old Quarry Road
Portland, OR 97229