SCTE’s Cable-Tec Expo hit Atlanta last week with the hurricane force of approx 10K engineers and techies. Attendance was up 6% over ’12, and that’s a testament to the growing importance of technology as a competitive differentiator. One thing that set this year’s show apart was the energy level on the show floor as some 60 new and first-time exhibitors demoed, dazzled and dealt with prospective buyers. SCTE long ago evolved beyond amplifiers, splitters and cable maintenance trucks.

But the show increasingly centers on software designed to do everything from enhancing multiplatform experiences to enabling more cloud-based network control. Meanwhile, CableLabs’ work on DOCSIS 3.1 and enabling an IP-based future prove that cable will have more than enough firepower to support hundreds of 4K (or even 8K) video streams, massive upstream bandwidth and ubiquitous 2nd-screen portability.

NCTA pres/CEO Michael Powell may have noted during Tues’ general opening session that “this industry has a chip on its shoulder.” But he used that declaration to encourage cable’s path to coolness as competitors eye its customers. “I don’t know of one tech company in this country that hasn’t decided that it wants in on our stuff,” he said. If the vibrancy and cool factor of the SCTE show floor was any indication last week, cable techies aren’t sitting on their hands. Quite the contrary, they’re stirring up the perfect storm.

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