Remember the scene in the movie “Network,” when Peter Finch got everyone to scream, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore?” That’s the way I felt on a recent out-of-town trip when I couldn’t get an unfamiliar data card to work with my laptop. After some impassioned email and a voice call late on a Friday night, my IT guy got it to work (for the most part), and I began happily typing away from afar.

I think most subscribers generally are happy with the way their networks — cable, wireless, wireline, Internet, etc. — perform. It’s only when the instant gratification is jeopardized or the price goes up that operators hear the aforementioned discouraging words from the masses.

Content providers, on the other hand, are busy trying to keep all the balls in the air, because this isn’t your father’s network. With consumer demand for new products and services (not to mention competitive threats that just seem to grow on a day-to-day basis) top of mind with the C-suite and the marketing department, more pressure is being put on the IT and IP staff who keep the pipeline going.

This month, Communications Technology focuses on that nebulous thing called "the network" and where it’s going in the near future. What we know for sure is that standards-setters and researchers are developing all kinds of new technologies to help technical staff fatten the pipe and add to its capabilities. Some of the most interesting work is being done with CableLabs’ DPoE specification ( see page 12), with the next great network software overhaul ( see page 26) and with spectrum reclamation ( see page 30) — a bag of tricks available to all tech departments.

Right now, the debate continues as to who the network winners and losers will be. Some believe the non-traditionalists like Google, Apple, Facebook and smaller video impresarios will capture the hearts and minds of those who aren’t tied to the living-room TV set for video. Others see continued sparring between cable, telco and satellite entities for the triple-play. And what will happen when the first player bows to consumer pressure (and you know it’s out there) to offer a la carte pricing?

We are just days away from The Cable Show 2011, and the NCTA promises an information-packed program guaranteed to inspire all comers. Email me at dbaker@accessintel.com if you have a few minutes to meet in Chicago. I’d love to talk with you!

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