True to its name, the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which opens this week in Las Vegas, will have a definitively global flavor, with 1,100 of the scheduled 2,700 exhibitors coming from outside of the United States. In total, 140 countries will be represented.

The number of exhibitors has only declined 7 to 8 percent from last year despite the downturn in the economy. In fact, 300 exhibitors, including Huawei, Blockbuster and Phoenix Technology, are International CES first-timers.

"In the consumer technology industry, it is vital for people to attend trade shows and exhibits," said Sarah Szabo, communications manager for the Consumer Electronics Association. "(CES) is really one place every January to meet with one another, meet with partners and form relationships."

Where the twain meet

There isn’t an official theme to the show, but the convergence of content and technology has emerged as a catch-phrase describing the flavor this year.

"There will be a very large presence in terms of content and the growing relationship between technology and digital entertainment," Szabo said.

From cable’s perspective, operators gain a peek into the home and a look at the hottest consumer devices. They can compare what they find to their network philosophy, said Al Johnson, vice president of marketing for BroadLogic Network Technologies.

"It causes them to take a hard look at what (they) are doing in the headend," he said. "Can the network transport it … and do the CPE devices (they) have today or will install in the near future accommodate those new things?"

Cable breakout

There will be a separate Cable Conference at CES this year. Panels will bring together representatives from the cable, consumer electronics and entertainment industries, including Comcast, Cablevision, Discovery Communications, Starz Entertainment and Intel.

On the show floor, celebrities from some of NBC Universal’s biggest news and morning programs will broadcast live. And Sony Pictures Television will film episodes of Celebrity Jeopardy, a brand that the company says already "has crossed platforms seamlessly."

From the technology side, Cisco will demonstrate how its solutions can help service providers deliver applications including personal content sharing, whole-home audio and video, security, monitoring and automation. The company will showcase its cross-platform video delivery systems and IPTV set-top boxes.

At Motorola’s booth, see WiMAX and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) solutions as well as demonstrations of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, which the company has said will help develop cellular networks that are "fast, agile and able to deliver content on consumers’ terms."

Of course, broadcasters, technology suppliers and service providers of all stripes are prepping for the Feb. 17 deadline for over-the-air analog shutdown. BroadLogic recently launched a revision to its TeraPIX chip. The BL81000 is a multi-channel video processor designed to decode up to 80 MPEG-2 streams and replicate them into a custom analog lineup. "A number of OEMs are starting to deliver early products to the industry," Johnson said.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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