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The Rapid Pace of Innovation

The Rapid Pace of Innovation

Back in June, on the eve of NCTA’s annual conference, it was clear that a theme had emerged for The Cable Show.  As I wrote on this blog, we were entering “a new world in which Consumer Electronics, Information Technology and Hollywood” have come together into order to deliver our customers new and powerful ways of consuming entertainment and information. To be more technical about it, as industry observer Leslie Ellis put it:
…we’re moving to a world where stuff can be done without set-top boxes, at least as they exist in hardware. Now, it’s set-tops; next, it’s gateways that bridge between set-tops and cable modems, and ultimately, it’s video delivered completely over IP, from the network, to the end devices.
I bring this up because NCTA’s President and CEO Michael Powell sent a letter last week to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski about these new developments and what they mean for our ability to achieve a fully competitive and innovative retail video device marketplace. This issue has been discussed for some time, but 2011 has brought a host of services entering the marketplace.  See some of our previous posts: All of that was before The Cable Show. As Michael Powell’s letter pointed out, the various demos and panels from our event help show how the cable industry “is providing American consumers with powerful, personal, and portable services and networks that support unprecedented mobility of content to multiple devices both in and out of the home.”
The Cable Show demonstrated that Congress’s and the Commission’s video device goals are already being achieved in the marketplace.  …there is broad-based momentum in the cable industry to deliver cable services to consumers on any device.
Today, consumers have more sources of video programming and content on more devices than ever before, and the choices are only growing through a variety of market-based approaches: smart TVs, iPads and other tablets, TV from the “cloud,” set-top boxes that can combine TV with Internet content, the growing role of home networking and connected devices. All of these approaches are playing a role. As quoted in this write-up in Multichannel News, NCTA is suggesting that regulatory efforts intended to encourage innovation may instead impede.
"The problem that remains in this marketplace is not the need for a single guiding regulatory prescription," like the FCC's proposed AllVid solution, wrote Powell. "The marketplace is at a critical juncture, inviting participants to make major bets and even more major investments in technology to meet rapidly developing consumer demand with rapidly changing technological tools. This kind of innovation is about risk taking. The environment that invites the greatest risk taking is one with the certainty that regulators will not step in and displace new technologies or new investments."
FOOTNOTE: There was a lot of activity at The Cable Show along these lines, but you get a taste of what's happening in this area, watch some videos from The Park, such as the demos from Comcast, Cablevision and HBO.