ATLANTA, March 25 – It’s hard to tell that the fiber optic communications industry is in a slump after spending some time at the Optical Fiber Communication 2003 (OFC) conference being held this week at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center. With four halls housing nearly 900 exhibitors and registration stations crowded with attendees, the conference exudes success and confidence. On the technical front, a nine percent increase in papers and an avalanche of new products on display indicate that despite well-documented slowdowns in the economy, companies and developers are focused on the future. Attendees crowd the registrationstation at OFC. Global interest in the technology has been highlighted by the fact that more than 25 percent of exhibiting companies come from outside the US, including at least one government-sponsored delegation from China. In addition to technical sessions and the exhibition, the conference is holding its plenary and awards session today, and a variety of special technical and business sessions.