Cable celebrates good times and user-friendly technology

At the Cable Show last week at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, the cable industry celebrated good times and new technology.

Kyle McSlarrow, the head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said in his keynote that cable had much to celebrate despite a troubled economy. The industry’s growth, he said, represents a “sea change in the telecommunications landscape” that can be attributed to the industry positioning itself to “lead with relentless innovation.”

McSlarrow highlighted the growth experienced by cable operators and programmers in providing consumers with high-definition video, faster high-speed broadband Internet connectivity and a rapidly growing digital phone service that is saving consumers billions each year. Nearly 14 million cable homes had HDTV-enabled set-top boxes as of year-end 2007 — a 53 percent increase for the year, he said.

Technology exhibitors like Motorola and Cisco were pushing new set-top technology to provide better access to content.

Other industry initiatives included Project Canoe, the industry effort to standardize interactive ad technology in cable systems throughout the country. Targeting advertising is the “Holy Grail” for cable, said Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts.

Time Warner, Comcast and Bright House touted their new investment in WiMax technology with Sprint and Clearwire. Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel, another investor in the project, said the venture will probably be the fastest, nationwide network built.

Otellini said he expects the network to consistently be above 5Mb/s and able to reach 14Mb/s to 15Mb/s in some areas.