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Cable Tech

SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2021 shifts to virtual format as pandemic rages

With infections rising due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, The Society of Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) announced Friday that this year's Cable-Tec Expo will transition to an all-virtual, all-digital event.

The original plan, put into place back when it appeared the pandemic was settling down, was for SCTE to host a hybrid event, with some showgoers attending online alongside a group that would be in person in Atlanta. Even with the shift to the digital format, the show will still take place from October 11-13 at a web browser or app near you.

SCTE, which merged with CableLabs at the start of 2021, was forced to go with an all-digital format for last year's Cable-Tec Expo, originally set to take place in Denver, because of the pandemic.

Last year's virtual event, held from October 12-15, drew more than 2.8 million minutes of online activity and hosted about 1,300 online meetings, according to SCTE figures released last fall. About 75% of last year's digital Cable-Tec Expo was done live, and 25% was pre-recorded.

SCTE said more information will be forthcoming about the all-virtual format. The organization did not announce how the decision will impact vendors and suppliers that were planning to exhibit at the in-person element of Cable-Tec Expo 2021. More detail is to come about refunds or price adjustments for those who had registered to attend Cable-Tec Expo 2021 in person. Meanwhile, prospective attendees can visit the event site and use the online option to register.

Update: SCTE clarified that people who paid for in-person will be notified of the shift to the all-online format. Once those people re-register for virtual they will receive a credit for the difference in fees, the organization said.

SCTE said the decision to take this year's show virtual was made due to a confluence of factors, including the surge in the Delta variant and the curtailment on travel imposed by the US government and international travelers and by some corporations for employee travel.

"Our industry rose to the challenge over the past year and a half to keep the world connected safely throughout the pandemic. We are continuing that pledge now by presenting Cable-Tec Expo as a virtual experience," Mark Dzuban, SCTE president and CEO, said in a statement. "As a virtual event last year, Cable-Tec Expo had the largest level of engagement we have ever seen and we look forward to that same level of connection, innovation, and education in October."

"A critical source of technical and business insights, Cable-Tec Expo 2021 virtual experience will serve as the platform to create new opportunities across industries, showcase cutting-edge new technologies and services, and gather invaluable business knowledge and policy expertise," Kevin Hart, 2021 program chair and EVP, chief product and technology officer, Cox Communications, said.

"We are looking forward to connecting safely with the individuals and organizations that genuinely care about our businesses and the industry at large," said Phil McKinney, CEO of CableLabs.

Philly on deck for 2022

Pandemic-willing, Cable-Tec Expo 2022 is slated to be held in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from September 19-22. David Watson, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, has been named chairman for next year's event.

It's not clear if SCTE's decision to shift to virtual will influence other coming events to do the same.

At last check, the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show is still slated to take place October 9-13 in Las Vegas. The organization announced recently that all NAB 2021 show attendees must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The Consumer Technology Association made a similar announcement for CES 2022, set for January 5-8 in Las Vegas.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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