SCTE’s first Conference on Emerging Technologies (ET) was held in Orlando in 1988 and focused on a new concept: analog fiber in cable TV systems. This started a long period of innovations in the cable industry. It led to hybrid fiber/coax (HFC), high-speed data, telephone service and many new business applications, including the Time Warner Full Service Network. Today, our industry is moving into the new and challenging all-digital world. Industry leaders have said that cable needs to have an all-digital, switched network sooner rather than later. This will cause technology to advance to a new level and cause cable telecommunications professionals to go back to school. SCTE’s Emerging Technologies Conference deals with the issues that will significantly impact our technical staffs over the next three to five years. This year’s conference, set for Jan. 13–15, 2004, at the Adams Mark Hotel in Dallas, also will focus on future technologies. Read on to find out about those topics. ET 2004 kicks off with a session on the issues surrounding migration to an all-digital network, including discussions on the next-generation digital requirements beyond Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 2.0, as well as managing a variety of services through an all IP network. DOCSIS limitations When you think about the ramifications of an all-digital network, you will realize that there are limitations with the current DOCSIS platform. Can DOCSIS be fortified to work in the all-digital world? Will DOCSIS 3.0 emerge? Will it be able to support the quantum leap in volume and quality of service (QoS) needed in an all-digital system? How will this new network technology be managed? As you know, capacity is also a big issue. Billions of dollars and years of time have been spent upgrading plants to the current HFC architecture. Now, with the potential for a switched, all-digital network is there enough capacity in current transport networks? Looking at homes per node and streaming applications, it becomes evident that we must evaluate the challenges with advanced dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) and transport architectures to enable the large data streams that a switched digital network requires. Consumer devices At ET 2004, there will be discussions on consumer devices and how these relate to the OpenCable™ Applications Platform (OCAP), including cable-delivered interactive entertainment, information and communications, and the DOCSIS gateway and migration path for current and legacy two-way digital set-tops. Addressable advertising, HDTV and untapped revenue streams also will be covered. We’ll explore ways to move fiber deeper and capture new revenue by reaching small- and mid-sized businesses. There will be discussions on the architectures to open this market and simultaneously expand bandwidth for the network. Attendees also will benefit from networking with the technical leaders in the industry. It’s no longer possible to get by with just understanding RF. Today, you also have to keep up with new concepts such as operation support systems (OSS), telephony, digital networks and DWDM. You need to meet and rub shoulders with experts in all of these areas. I hope to see all of you at the conference; it’s a great learning experience. Dave Pangrac is president of Pangrac & Associates Consultants and 2004 ET Program Chair. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.