Just like he did 11 years ago, Brian Roberts took to the Cable Show’s stage to demo the next and greatest high-speed offering. How things have changed… Not only does Roberts have less hair these days, but modems are also on the brink of much faster speeds. In 1996, he demoed a standard cable modem, but today it was a wideband cable modem based on DOCSIS 3.0. With the help of Arris tech, Roberts downloaded all 32 volumes of the 2007 Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Merriam-Webster dictionary (that’s 55mln words, 100K articles, 22K pictures and maps, and more than 400 video clips). The 4GB file would take 3 hours and 12 minutes to download on a standard cable modem. It took just under 4 minutes with wideband, which is capable of speeds as high as 150Mbps. Smaller files downloaded almost instantaneously on wideband. "What consumers actually do with all of this speed is up to the entrepreneurs of tomorrow," said Roberts, who later declined to estimate when he would roll out the tech. He did note that because of backward compatibility, it would be "quite easy to see the migration happen." To remind everyone of just how far technology has come, NCTA showed a video of Roberts in ’96 demoing a standard cable modem downloading photos. "It’s hard to believe that was a ‘wow-factor’ 11 years ago," Roberts said after watching it. — Roberts was later joined by Time Warner’s Dick Parsons, Viacom’s Philippe Dauman and News Corp’s Peter Chernin; they tackled subjects like the increasing amount of content being distributed on the Internet. "We want to follow the consumer wherever the consumer is," Dauman said. "We have a triple-play ourselves on the content side… It’s not duplicative of what’s shown on Brian and Dick’s cable systems. It’s additive." Parsons and Roberts agreed. Chernin predicted further Internet consolidation, including with cable (no comment on Dow Jones, by the way). The panel, moderated by former FCC chmn William Kennard, also touched on Washington’s interest in media violence. Chernin drew applause after he told the crowd that regulating a small piece of media, such as cable or broadcast, wouldn’t prevent exposure to violence on video games, cell phones or the other multiple screens out there. "Unfortunately, whether parents like it or not, [monitoring what kids view is] one of the things that parents are going to have to do," he said. "That’s part of life as a parent and, frankly, that’s where it belongs."

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