When 110 joystick-toting Internet gamers come together at Silicon Valley's Network Meeting Center in March, it will mark the largest computer lab created at the center since T1 lines were installed last summer. Team Canine, an invitation-only computer game user group, and its sponsers and guests are convening for two days of high-bandwidth gaming and networking at a facility that--as an 11-year veteran of the valley--seems ready for any high-tech twist.
Just ask Frank Ng. As the Network Meeting Center's operations manager, he's set up Intel's Demo Days three years running, televised Citibank's Christmas party last year to its Atlanta offices, and recently hosted 3Com for the demo of its newest PalmPilot.
While 3Com outsourced Web broadcasting services for the PalmPilot event, Ng says that for most clients, everything for a high-tech meeting is already on-site. Including him. "You buy service when you rent the room," he says. "We do almost everything in-house; that's key." Ng's equipment list runs from standard LCD panels to more sought after toys such as:
* PictureTel 4000 ZX roll-around audio and videoconferencing system running at speeds of up to 384Kbps;
* Canon RE-650N document camera used in conjunction with the PictureTel unit, which projects any slide or paper document for the other site to view;
* Polycom speakerphone for audioconferencing.
The equipment gets plenty of use. Ng set up an average of three videoconferences a week last year, but that was slow compared to 1997, and he's bullish on 1999. "I'm expecting a strong year. More companies are showing a willingness to spend money on their meetings. I'm hoping to do one [videoconference] a day this year."
The privately held Network Meeting Center sits squarely in the heart of Silicon Valley, 10 minutes from the San Jose airport. It fills most of the first floor of the Techmart building, where other tech notables such as Sun Microsystems, Siemens Electronics, and Rand Computer also have offices. Of the center's 14 meetings rooms, the largest is the 3,612-square-foot Silicon Valley room, which seats 180 classroom-style, 250 theater-style. The center completed a top-to-bottom renovation in January 1998.
A member of the International Association of Conference Centers, the center also boasts an on-site audiovisual studio, the ability to distribute video signals from one meeting room to another, 500 amps of power running into the largest meeting room, electrically driven blackout shades and projection screens, built in white boards, and high-backed "eight-hour" conference chairs.
There are no guest rooms on property, but a covered walkway leads to the 501-room Westin Santa Clara. The Westin, in turn, connects to the Santa Clara Convention Center. For more information, visit the Network Meeting Center Web site at www.networkmeetingcenter.com, or call (408) 562-6182.