Interop Infrastructure Awards

The past year has been a wild ride for service providers, which found themselves challenged - and how - not only by rocky financial markets, but also by a more demanding and discerning customer base.

The past year has been a wild ride for service providers, which found themselves challenged — and how — not only by rocky financial markets, but also by a more demanding and discerning customer base. Those that survived did so by coupling smart business plans with clever new ideas, displaying the kind of innovation the annual Interop Infrastructure Awards honor each year.

We were a little surprised at just how many companies had a silver lining to tout. In their fourth year, the awards attracted the largest number of nominations so far — 104 — submitted by the companies themselves and their customers. One of the more troubled service categories, application service provider, attracted the most nominations (17), while three other categories — Web hosting, backbone networks and wireless service providers — also hit individual category records.

Given the tough year, its no surprise to find a casualty among the winners: Metricom has folded its tent, despite introducing a highly innovative wireless data offering. So many new companies elbowed to the front of the pack that there was only one repeat winner: Yipes Communications. A number of smaller companies from rural areas, including Rural Telephone Service Co., the Glasgow Electric Plant Board and Insight Communications, broke through, proving you dont have to be big to be good.

This years lineup was judged by Probe Research analyst Hilary Mine and TeleChoice President Christine Heckart; Carol Wilson and Dennis Mendyk, top editors of The Net Economy; and Interactive Week Communications Editor Dana Coffield, and Senior Writers Nancy Gohring and Max Smetannikov.

The awards will be presented at a reception Sept. 11 at NetWorld+Interop in Atlanta. But for those of you who cant be there . . .