A couple of themes emerged at the Rocky Mountain Women in Cable Telecommunications "Tech It Out" conference in Denver on Tuesday. Several speakers mentioned the "anytime, anywhere, on any device" theme that garnered so much buzz at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show. Generational differences were also a recurring theme at the WICT gathering.
Sherisse Hawkins, VP at Time Warner Cable’s Advanced Technology Group, kicked off the opening keynote with a YouTube video about the explosion in information technology, containing factoids such as: "NTT Japan has successfully tested a fiber-optic cable … that pushes 14 trillion bits per second down a single strand of fiber."
Hawkins said her group at Time Warner was working on ways to manage content, including sorting, filtering, personalizing and transmitting across platforms. "That is the core of our decisions for the next three to five years," she said.
At a Q&A moderated by Tony Werner, CTO at Comcast, panel members discussed advanced advertising.
Rebecca Rusk Lim, senior director with advanced service at Starz Entertainment, said CableLabs’ enhanced binary interface format (EBIF) specification will help push advanced advertising forward quickly. "If we can download a small agent like EBIF and make it smart, we can have 15-20 million of those (EBIF-enabled) boxes out there by the end of 2009," Lim said.
For more on EBIF, see this December CT story.
As for the concern that targeted advertising will be perceived as an invasion of privacy, Charlotte Field, SVP with Comcast’s national engineering and technical operations, offered a measured response.
"I think some people really like targeted ads," Field said. "My daughter would not think it was an invasion at all. But I think opt-in is important."
Werner predicted that cable would follow the lead of Google and Amazon with specifically targeted advertising. "I think it’s almost an inevitable destination," he said. "I think it’s a long time before it gets quite that specific."
The panel also discussed super-high-speed Internet. Specifically, Japan’s largest cable operator, Jupiter Telecommunications (J:Com), offers a DOCSIS 3.0 Internet service that can reach downstream speeds as fast as 160 Mbps. For the Jupiter announcement from April 2008, click here.
Some panelists questioned the practical need for such high speeds, but it’s a hard trend to buck.
"I think people are going to find reasons to need higher speeds," Lim said.
Comcast’s technology chief said demand would rise to meet supply.
"I think it’s clear that when you build the network, they will come," Werner said.
– Linda Hardesty
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