NCTA President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow focused on three aspects where his organization is focusing in regard to public policy while urging audience members to support those initiatives through their various partnerships, including with the consumer electronics industry, during yesterday’s keynote address.

"What we do and say here over the next couple of days, examining and evaluating the latest developments in our technological evolution, is essential to cable’s continued success," McSlarrow said.

The first aspect McSlarrow outlined was cable’s advantage for delivering digital services, including more HD programming. McSlarrow said last year was the tipping point for digital because it was the first time that digital customers outnumbered analog customers and that more than a million digital subscribers were coming on board each quarter. With the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline looming, McSlarrow said cable represents "the best play for digital services and HD."  McSlarrow also touted the new business opportunities that digital affords, including caller ID on TV screens and Time Warner Cable‘s Start Over.

The second aspect McSlarrow outlined was the advantages wideband will bring to the cable industry over its competitors. Wideband will be the third Internet revolution, behind dial-up and broadband, according to McSlarrow. Bandwidth-saving tools such as switched digital video (SDV) will help cable operators deploy wideband on a wide scale.

"Switched digital video is the choice of engineers, but it will also dramatically improve customers’ satisfaction of our services," McSlarrow said.

Lastly, McSlarrow spoke about cable devices being available in retail outlets, which he said previously helped push the adoption of cable modems. McSlarrow was also big on the OpenCable Application Platform, but he said the acronym "OCAP" "completely drops the ball" and joked about banning its use at NCTA. With OpenCable, "consumers have more power than ever to watch what they want, when they want," McSlarrow said.

During the question-and-answer session, McSlarrow was asked about the status of two-way, CableCard TV sets. McSlarrow said all of the current TV sets he’s seen are one-way, and that in the initial agreement two-way TV sets were "a bridge too far." The FCC, consumer electronics industry and cable have made progress over the past six months in regards to an agreement on two-way, CableCard TV sets, but it has "frustrated the heck out of everyone." He said he expects the FCC to issue a rule making soon on two-way TVs "to spur the parties to get serious." – Mike Robuck

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