NCTA may have killed its annual trade show that was slated to take place in April in DC, but Cablefax has learned the group isn’t completely walking away from an event in the nation’s capital next month. Enter “The Near Future,” an invitation-only, half-day gathering set to take place in the city on April 27, the day after The Cable Center holds its Hall of Fame dinner at the Grand Hyatt in DC. Much smaller in scale and more targeted in scope than INTX, NCTA has been working on the particulars for months. The crux of The Near Future (and hook for its name) is a look at next-generation technology—how close it is along with how it will impact the way we live, work, learn and play. It’s being produced in partnership with CableLabs and will feature demos, top influencers, networking and interviews. NCTA is promising it’s not like anything else out there, and has set up a campaign that will tease out details over the next seven weeks (check out www.thenearfuture.events). Even the venue for the event sets it apart as something different—and completely unrecognizable from an industry trade show. The Near Future will be held at Dock 5 at Union Market, a unique, warehouse venue directly above Union Market, which houses more than 30 of the top food producers in the region. About 300 people are expected to participate, with invitations focused on analysts, media, policy makers, technology influencers, and so on. In other words, it’s not a bunch of cable execs talking to other cable execs. Given that it’s NCTA and the gathering is in DC, it’s important to stress this isn’t a policy event. It’s not going to feature panels discussing net neutrality or spectrum repacking. Instead, any policy talk would be thinking about the policy implications the future might bring. Given that we might finally see a Communications Act rewrite, it’s a good idea to spark those conversations and questions rather than try and fit virtual reality, driverless cars and other tech into a legislation penned decades earlier. Details are sparse at this point, but keep an eye on NCTA’s Twitter feed and the Near Future’s website for what’s to come.

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