The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is bringing cable consumers exactly what it promised – competitive choices, stepped-up investment in new technology, and introduction of advanced broadband services, National Cable Television Association President and CEO Robert Sachs declared today. Sachs made his remarks at a luncheon meeting of the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club observing the fifth anniversary of the '96 Telecom Act.

NCTA is also marking the occasion by changing its name to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Sachs announced, recognizing cable's transformation from a one-way video service to supplier of a broad range of advanced, two-way services.

For cable, February 2001 is "10-4-1" month – recognizing progress in deployment of advanced services since the '96 Act was passed. "This month, cable will add its 10 millionth digital video customer, its four millionth high speed data customer, and, perhaps most significantly, its one millionth residential cable telephony customer. That adds up to 15 million new revenue units and millions of satisfied cable consumers," Sachs said.

Sachs summarized results of the '96 Act's deregulation, which prompted unprecedented private investment and advances in deployment of consumer services. These include an explosion of new customers for direct broadcast satellite, wireless telephone, digital television, high-speed Internet access and other advanced services.

New deployment required massive capital private investment -- $42 billion from the cable industry alone. This investment was needed to upgrade over a million miles of cable plant across the country, Sachs said, noting that "the industry is now more than three-quarters of the way done with the task."

"Internet protocol ("IP") telephony over broadband cable networks is next on cable's priority chart, Sachs noted. More than one million residential customers are already enjoying lower prices and more choice using cable switched circuit telephony, and that number will increase as internet protocol/telephony is deployed, he said. "Just as the first five years or the Act have seen multi-channel video, wireless and Internet competition flourish, the next five years will see the vision of local phone competition finally realized," Sachs predicted.