Looking back at 2011 from my perch here in the year 2021 (hey, I’m above it all now), I can see that 2011 was the year cable began to really pull it all together into more than just a full-service network—cable created a full-service universe. It was just after National ’06 in Atlanta that cable operators began to move beyond what we used to call the triple-play bundle into delivering a big-time bundle of fully integrated "smart home" and "smart office" products. Revenues initially took off with widespread VoIP deployment coupled with the creation of special SOHO (small office, home office) units of sales technicians. Those revenues fueled the beginning of truly fully integrated product offerings that married the muscle of the ever-growing set-top box with devices that worked everywhere. And by April of ’11, cable’s penetration levels began to really grow (from 68% of video, 61% of broadband, 28% of land-linked voice and 18% of wireless "voice+") to where it is today: At a modest 77% of everything…including commercial installations! In fact, the five-year, crystal-ball predictions made in CableWorld‘s April 17 ’06 issue by nine astute operators began to come true less than five months later. For example, the first of the so-called quadruple-play packages hit the market in ’06 (I can’t recall which month), but I remember the leader was Cablevision, followed less than one month later by Time Warner and Comcast. [An aside: Steve Burke back then claimed Comcast was in the "seventh or eighth inning" of "fully building out what the VOD platform can do." But I got the full package at my house in the Colorado mountains just last week! Some ninth inning that was!] Astute as they were, the most important two things that happened, though, weren’t specifically mentioned by those nine operators in ’06, although, as Steve Burke said, "…we will look for ways to create products that are converged products—things that you can only do when you get all three products from a cable company…" He said "three" products, but what happened went beyond that, with dozens of products and services. The two most important things that occurred: (1) Michael Willner and a few others began to think of wireless as more than a cellular-like service. They saw it as an in-home (or office) component…and like Amy Tykeson in Bend, Ore., had done, outside the home via other technologies. To them, "taking cable service outside the home" meant taking it anywhere—but as a cable customer first and foremost…no matter where, what or how that information/entertainment got connected or delivered. (2) The set-top box grew beyond being an enabler to become the command hub of all the services. The box controlled anything connected to the cable infrastructure (including broadband access) because each subscriber—and that subscriber’s devices—were all identified by the head-end!

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