Let’s get back to basics for a moment. The cable industry’s increasingly powerful plant has given us the ability to provide data transmission and telephone service, and our technology also makes us unique in being able to offer true video on demand services and ultimately real "interactive television." But fundamentally, we started out by delivering video to the home, and delivering it better than anyone else. We started with improved signals-a community antenna. We then moved to bringing in video that could not normally be seen in the community, even with a really good antenna. Then we funded most of the new programmers who have been so successful at their trade that cable channels are now watched in more households than the broadcast channels even during "sweeps weeks." At the core, however, is better video. We have been hurting in that category for a while now, as was reported in CableFAX yesterday-the sales forces at Best Buy and Circuit City still "favor" DBS because it is "all digital." This says a lot about marketing, and not much more. As an unabashed satellite partisan and good friend of mine has long pointed out, digital signals are not, inherently, better than analog signals. That’s just hype. A "good" analog signal will easily compete with the digital signals being delivered by DBS today. I often showcase both at home to folks, switching back and forth between the same program from my Cox Cable analog feed and my DirecTV box. Both are excellent. And that’s the point. Excellent pictures are what folks want. The "digital transition" has led consumers (who know about it) to think that when they get those new, fancy, expensive television sets they are also going to get a new video experience. The problem is many of them have a lot of trouble getting there. The reason is not only expectations (there are still way too many people who think they are watching "HD" because they bought a "digital" set with a 16X9 screen, which should tell you something about the discerning eye of most television viewers,) but the ease with which they can "transition" to this new marketing mecca of high definition, home theatre, DVR, VOD television. Have you tried? It’s a pain too often. Now that we are in the gift-giving season I am repeatedly asked by friends if "now is the time" to make the switch. Reluctantly, I have to say the answer is "… not yet." Why? Because for those who currently have things like DVD players, home theatre systems, first generation PVRs, and the like, putting the new "system" together is daunting. It usually starts and ends with the connectors. The "DVI" (Digital Visual Interface) or the "HDMI" (High Definition Multimedia Interface) have been added to the "S" video connector, the digital audio connectors (two competing types, of course) the "composite" video connectors and the "component" connectors, not to leave out the good old RGB, and coax connectors, as well. Some work, some have been "disabled" for now, or when you plug them into older gear. To make things worse, understandably, many cable and satellite installers will not touch your home gear for fear of being there for the next three days trying to figure it all out! Yes, I know, digital rights management has created a lot of these problems. But we have to do better than this, or at least at explaining it! Cable, the traditional "video maven," should take the lead, otherwise we are going to suffer a loss of customers from missed connections.