Midway through every year, this industry celebrates its heritage with a big gathering of its leading companies and people. Such a get-together offers the opportunity to see how competitors are faring, to learn about newcomers, and to catch up with old friends. At one time, this event was known as the Microwave Theory & Techniques Symposium (MTT-S), but it has more recently been elevated to the International Microwave Symposium (IMS) and Microwave Week.

Scheduled for June 17-22, 2012 in the Palais des Congres de Montreal (Montreal Convention Center) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Microwave Week has been given the theme "Microwave Without Borders"appropriate for an event taking place outside of the United States for only the second time in its 60-year history. But quietly, this year's site has proven to be an issue of discontent for some companies.

This is no slight against Montreal itself, a beautiful, cosmopolitan city that boasts its own share of top-notch RF/microwave companiesAdvantech Wireless and Focus Microwaves, to name but two. Also, lest we forget, the word at the beginning of the event's name is "International." Yet somehow, the international aspect has always referred to the starting point of the other exhibitors, and not where the show is actually being held.

So why does having the event beyond the borders of the United States make a difference? Plain and simple: It is the border crossing, and the fact that many RF/microwave companies are involved in work that is in some way connected to the US government. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) provisions are essentially regulations that control the export and import of defense-related articles and services that are on the United States Munitions List (USML), which is under the control of the US Department of State. And in this industry, it sometimes takes more than a little effort and time to separate the goods and services that are related to the US government from the ones that are not.

As a result, some industry stalwarts will be missing from this year's IMS exhibition. But while the exhibition is certainly diminished by these companies' absence, their decision should be respected. During a time of heightened national-security awareness, a border crossing with sample products can represent an unnecessary risk.

For those who make the trip, all the best wishes for a happy and successful IMS2012. As the industry's once-a-year event, it features some outstanding technical presentations and workshops, along with a first-rate exhibition floor. And of course, Microwave Week includes other notable events in addition to IMS2012, including the Radio-Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) Symposium and the Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG) conference.

Jack Browne
Technical Contributor