By Michael Powell
I joined the cable industry over three years ago because I saw how this industry's technology and programming had the ability to be a positive force for good in our society. I know firsthand how cable had a tremendous impact on my generation, and I wanted to be part of an industry with a strong, agile platform that would empower future generations.
When I was at the Federal Communications Commission, I witnessed how technology ushered in a new batch of devices that have changed our society in impactful and lasting ways. The powerful networks that this industry created had opened a whole new world of opportunities for education, business and culture. I knew even more exciting times were ahead.
In 2014, the world that cable is part of is more dynamic than ever as IP technology has empowered new possibilities for the way we communicate, are entertained and learn. We are in the midst of an exciting, rapidly evolving consumer-driven technology marketplace. And cable's right in the middle with an open platform that is a launching pad for innovation.
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. Everyday we see 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.
This digital revolution has changed how we watch and engage with cable's incredible content. The programming that tells the stories of our time–from late breaking global news, a game-ending goal or an award-winning scripted drama–are now being watched on screens large and small, in the home or on the airplane that brought us to Los Angeles. Technology has also enabled a world of discovery for finding new shows to watch with the family or offering a chance to interact with a show's cast and crew.
The Internet has fundamentally changed us as consumers. We are different as a society, as people and as an industry than we were 15, 10 or even just five years ago. And it keeps driving us all to do better.
So where is the cable industry going next?
The future is about faster, more powerful and open networks, including cable's growing WiFi footprint that is reaching deep into communities–250,000 hotspots and growing.
By taking advantage of technologies like the cloud and IP, we will see simpler and more media rich interfaces with better navigation.
As we ride the wave of smart devices, video content is making its way to any device the consumer chooses, at any time or any place. And of course, cable's programming will continue to be awesome and push even deeper to create more amazing stories.
We have myriad opportunities, challenges and changes that are right in front of us. I know this industry will continue to innovate, execute and find fresh ways to delight consumers with powerful, affordable and reliable services.
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.
(Michael Powell is president and CEO of the NCTA. He was FCC chmn from 2001-2005).