This time next week, the SCTE’s Conference on Emerging Technologies will be convening in Tampa for the annual attempt to talk about the future. This is a necessary but far from simple task. The necessity derives from the importance of putting aside daily demands in order to think about the future. "There is plenty in our day-to-day lives that has to do with the current challenges in the next 18 months. Expo and NCTA are more here-and-now. This event is supposed to be more focused on beyond that," said this year’s ET Program Chair and C- COR CTO Ken Wright. The difficulty is that the future is, by definition, an uncertain topic. "If we focus on too far out, then it becomes just crystal ball, pie-in-the-sky," Wright said. The time horizon that the SCTE traditionally has targeted for ET is three to five years out; thus, the emphasis at next week’s event on the year 2010. Selecting the papers Given the velocity of technological change both within and without the industry, that remains an ambitious goal. To help guide the SCTE toward meeting it, Wright assembled a committee of industry leading lights who earn their living in part by anticipating and strategically exploiting technology trends. This impressive group included one bona fide strategist: Nomi Bergman (EVP Strategy and Development, Advance/Newhouse); five from cable technology’s EVP/SVP and/or CTO ranks— Chris Bowick (Cox Communications), Wayne Davis (Charter Communications), Wilt Hildenbrand (Cablevision Systems), Jim Luddington (Time Warner Cable) and Tony Werner (Liberty Global); and one noted author, Leslie Ellis, whose second edition of Definitive Broadband focuses on the innovations and trends that have driven this industry so far, so fast. One of this committee’s primary jobs is organizing the event’s overarching themes and selecting the papers. In collaboration with SCTE, in particular SCTE VP Professional Development Marv Nelson and Speaker Logistics Coordinator Glenda Calcattera, this year the committee had to winnow down a batch of 136 submissions to 21 final papers, to be presented across four sessions. "There were so many abstracts, a lot of good proposals didn’t make the cut," Wright noted with regret. Fourth session on wireless The structure of the conference involves four sessions, each featuring five or six papers. "That first session (on Wednesday) is more about what does the cable telecom landscape look like in 2010," Wright said. "The afternoon session then looks a little more specifically at what does the network and the software look like to enable that to exist in 2010. The next session, as we move into Thursday, is more focused on what are cable operators competing against in 2010, and what are they armed with." The closing session on Thursday speaks to the rising prominence of wireless technologies. "This wasn’t one of the original ideas, but we had enough papers on wireless that we thought it would make sense to do a (separate) session," Wright said. The event opens with a lecture by Jim Carroll, described by Wright as a "futurist with a technology bent." Expect more discussion of ET in the next issue of CT’s Pipeline, and in two special issues that will be published Wednesday and Thursday of next week, during ET. – Jonathan Tombes

The Daily


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