Unleashed from the confines of San Francisco’s cramped Moscone Center, this year’s National Show is spreading its wings at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center with a cluster of pavilions adjacent to the exhibit floor where attendees can focus on four segments of the cable industry: broadband gaming, voice services, commercial services and emerging technologies. "The biggest complaint we get about the show is people don’t have enough time between sessions, meetings and walking the floor to do anything in depth," says NCTA director of administrator services Mark Bell. "The pavilions are a way to encapsulate what’s happening on the show floor in specific areas." Here’s a pre-tour of the four pavilions: CABLE GAME ARENA The Arena has the visceral pull of the arcade of your dreams. Fortunately, you can chalk up time clocked here to researching the latest in broadband video gaming products, services and players. Pavilion anchor Turner and its GameTap subsidiary dominate close to half the 7,200-square-foot arcade (think of last year’s Shorecliff-sponsored event on steroids), which is arranged in concentric rings to resemble a 3D version of the gametap.com online player experience. Comcast is providing the broadband connection throughout the pavilion. Other vendors include NDS, SeaChange and RealNetworks. A ring of experiential kiosks offers the chance to see interactive set-tops, consumer devices, online services, MMOG (massively multiplayer online games), educational games, in-game advertising and more. Forty-one of GameTap’s 400 games will be available for play, including Galaga, Sonic the Hedgehog and Triple Trouble. A raised center platform with four large plasmas sets the stage for showcasing new original Turner programming and ongoing multiplayer Pac-Man, Hydro Thunder and Sonic and Knuckles tournaments. Games will be magnified on big screens, and prizes include a trip to the Electronic Entertainment Expo from media sponsor Wired. VOICENET The number of VoIP users will explode from the current 3.3 million to 18 million by 2009, says research firm In-Stat. Cable companies need to hit the ground running, and VoiceNet is a good place to lace those sneakers. The "grand slam" cable and wireless joint venture between Sprint Nextel and Time Warner Cable, Cox and Advance/Newhouse got NCTA out of the bleachers and inspired it to begin planning this 5,000-square-foot pavilion. VoIP technologies and services from Sprint, BabyTel, EZ Scores, Mind CTI, Motorola and ZCorum will give you something to talk about. BIZNET Think of BizNet as an exercise in collocation for the exhibit portion of CTAM’s adjunct Business Services Forum, which begins April 11 at the World Congress Center. In past years the residential market focus has eclipsed interest in commercial telecom services for most cable operators. But with broadband taking hold, this multibillion dollar market is increasingly enticing to operators. This year for the first time exhibits specific to the CTAM event are on display just off the main National Show floor at BizNet. National Show attendees can peruse exhibits by 3PV, Third Party Verification, Advanced.1, Cisco Systems, INCO, Motorola, NARAD and others without registering for the Business Services Forum. Not a bad deal. CABLENET Cable operator interests are diverse. So are the emerging technologies from the more than 40 companies exhibiting at this year’s CableNet, co-sponsored by CableLabs. To name a few: plug-and-play applications, enhanced TV, downloadable conditional access models (DCAS) and advanced voice technology. Security is of particular interest this year, and CableLabs expects the suite of demonstrations built around both the emerging OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) and DCAS standards to draw crowds. Samsung Electronics, which in January became the first CE manufacturer to commit to installing the new DCAS system in upcoming digital cable-ready TVs and related devices, will have products on display. Additionally, Samsung, LG Electronics and Scientific-Atlanta are showing early versions of plug-and-play devices, while Lucent is touting advanced packet cable and digital voice displays.

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