One way to ensure up-to-date connectivity infrastructure in a convention center is to have a major telecommunications company as the center's corporate sponsor. The Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, bears the name of Telus Corp., a major Canadian telecommunications company headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia. Telus, which contributed $5.5 million (Canadian) for communications infrastructure and had a seat on the convention center design board, provides the facility with analog and digital phone service, including ISDN service for either data or video transmission; Category 6 copper wire (the Centre was the first in Canada to upgrade to this gigabit-quality service); a fully dedicated 100 megabit connection that goes directly into the Telus Managed Enterprise Access service for high-speed Internet connections; and ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber line) service providing 4.5 megabit download/640 kilobit upload service. The Ethernet service connects to a Cisco 1900 switch. The 1900 supports VLAN (virtual local area network) technology, which allows extremely flexible custom network configuration.

In fact, Calgary boasts that it is among the first venues in North America to offer gigabit service over copper wire; service began in May 2000. The venue also comes with a live-in information services coordinator, Vladimir Popravko. He provides on-site network support; call him at (403) 261-8504 with your technical questions.

With a 70,000-square-foot addition (which also opened in May 2000), the Telus Convention Centre offers a total of 130,000 square feet of meeting space, including 65,763 square feet of exhibit space, a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, and 34 breakout rooms.

The Convention Centre is attached to the 384-room Calgary Marriott Hotel, which also provides exclusive catering for the facility. The 355-room Regency Hyatt Hotel is attached to the Centre as well; a short walk via Calgary's Plus 15 (the name for its overhead walkway connecting downtown buildings) leads to the 405-room Palliser Hotel. There is heated underground parking for 433 cars, plus additional city parking nearby.

Can the Telus Convention Centre really deliver? As this was being written, the Canadian Society of Association Executives was preparing to hold its three-day annual conference and trade show there (July 28 — 30); visit www.csae.com to find out how it fared.