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Industry News

State of Cable: The Building Blocks of Innovation

@chairmanpowell

March 25, 2014

Originally posted on LinkedIn pulse as part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers analyze the state and future of their industry. Read the original post here. 

Finding an enlightening word or simple phrase that easily identifies the state of my industry is practically impossible. That’s because it is more dynamic than it has ever been, as technology opens up new possibilities and consumer preferences change.

But if you’re reading this post on a broadband connection, are anxiously awaiting the start of HBO’s Game of Thrones, are immersed in the annual ritual known as March Madness, following this miserable winter on The Weather Channel or tapping into a WiFi connection in your neighborhood park, you are experiencing the U.S. cable industry. Not so simple to define but certainly simple to enjoy.

I made the decision to join the cable industry three years ago and did so because I saw how its technology and programming impacted my generation, and built the platform to empower future generations.

When I was at the Federal Communications Commission in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I saw firsthand how new technology not only ushered in a new batch of electronic gadgets, but could change our society in impactful and lasting ways. I saw how powerful networks opened up new opportunities for learning, commerce and culture.

When I learned to drive, the instructor pointed out that if you drive 80 mph long enough, you will think you are going 20 mph. He said you become “velocitized.” It has always intrigued me how quickly we all grow velocitized to new technology—what was magical a few years ago is suddenly routine. This gives us all a sense of optimism and hope about solutions to the problems that ail society—the environment, health, upward mobility.

Our digital and Internet revolution has created a living, breathing and growing laboratory whose experiments bring forth novel services, genre-broadening content and genuine innovation.

Relentless modernization through the online world has fundamentally changed us as consumers of both technology and entertainment. We crave quality narrative and thirst for water cooler-ready entertainment in a way that was unquenchable with previous technology. And we expect objects in our lives to grow more intelligent and animating with every new product cycle.

The cable industry sits in the middle of this new ever-erupting consumer-driven technology marketplace. We provide some of the most crucial instruments for innovation in this new age, and I am impressed to see what people imagine and create with our products. Every day I wake up looking forward to hearing about the new feats achieved through the power of a broadband connection: unassuming entrepreneurs can make fortunes with an ingeniously simple app, currencies are redefined, and new languages are forged.

In my frequent conversations with colleagues and industry leaders, I’m left both excited and daunted by the myriad opportunities, challenges and changes that are set out before the industry. It can be the industry’s finest hour, but only if it innovates, executes and finds fresh ways to delight consumers with powerful, affordable and reliable services.

Where is my industry going next? Of increasing importance, the period ahead will bring much faster and more powerful networks to more consumers and businesses. This will include expanding Wi-Fi networks throughout communities. Second, taking advantage of technologies like the cloud and IP (Internet Protocol), we will see simpler and more media reach interfaces with better navigation. Third, riding the wave of smart devices, video content is making its way to any device the consumer chooses, any time or place he chooses. And cable needs to provide more flexible and affordable packages coupled with better customer service. Of course, the content will continue to be awesome.

It’s staggering to think how far we’ve come and it’s exciting to envision the distance and potential we’re yet to realize. But one thing’s for sure – cable will be there, leading the push for more access, better tools, faster speeds, and easier connectivity.