Powell praises cable industry's broadband rollout

Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, May 21 lauded the accomplishments of the cable industry in making a national broadband Internet network a reality and warned his audience at an industry gathering to guard against "naysayers" who favor regulation "where the government effectively owns or controls the network."

During his state of the industry speech on the opening day of The Cable Show 2012, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said such "European-style regulation" would be "a disastrous path to take."

"Confiscating private networks would put our already broke government on the hook to keep tens of billions of dollars annually flowing into network innovation," he said. "Letting politics allocate resources — rather than market economics and entrepreneurs — would kill investment and leave the Internet in the state we find today's post office, electric grid or crumbling transportation system."

Powell, who took the reins of NCTA in April 2011, told his audience that private industry has a successful record in investing in and deploying the nation's broadband network. Saying the industry invested almost $200 billion of private capital to a broadband infrastructure, Powell recalled the cable industry "bet big on the promise of delivering broadband."

"It was an ambitious and risk play, but one that is now paying off for consumers," he said. Powell said that broadband service via cable now reaches 93 percent of U.S. homes, and that the industry has increased speeds more than 900 percent in a decade.

Powell told his audience that the cable industry is working on ways to increase broadband adoption and partnering with the FCC to make broadband available to low income families. "This is critical because a child without access to the Internet will find life increasingly difficult in the Information Age," he said.

The cable industry also is "on the verge of deploying additional technology to reach speeds so fast, the Internet itself may be unable to deliver content fast enough to match cable's last mile," said Powell.

The cable industry also is at work on making cable content available on new devices, such as the Apple iPad, Microsoft Xbox, smartphones or "whatever that next cool this is that pops out," he said.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.