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Cable/Video

End of an Era at CableLabs

4:25 PM -- Over the last couple of decades, there were two things one could count on when covering the cable industry: someone, somewhere would be spreading fear that cable was on the verge of running out of bandwidth, and Mike Schwartz would always pick up the phone whenever a call was placed to CableLabs about a story that was looking good or bad about the Colorado-based R&D house.

Mike reached out Monday to pass word that he's leaving his PR/communications post at CableLabs, opting to seek out new opportunities. He'll stay on as a consultant through part of August.

We'll still stay in touch, but I will miss Mike, my point man there over the years as I covered the rise of cable's Docsis and PacketCable platforms for data and voice, and all the ups and downs (let's be honest, there were a lot of downs) that came with covering OpenCable and what ultimately was to be called tru2way.

Mike also played a big role with CableNET, a special CableLabs exhibit that started at the now-defunct Western Show in 1993 and later became part of The Cable Show, where vendors and even MSOs could showcase new technologies and services such as HD, wideband and interactive television well before they became commonplace.

And Mike had to drum up support for that thing when all the action (and booze and fun) could be found at the more easily accessible and super-fancy booths from the likes of MTV and Discovery as cable's major programmers made a huge land grab for spectrum as MSOs started to go digital.

CableNET and the equipment vendors, meanwhile, were resigned to the much harder-to-find tech ghetto of the show floor.

Fast-forward to the more recent string of cable shows, and it's technology and the vendors, and not so much the programmers, that are front and center on the floor, stealing the show spotlight, and making announcements and advances that actually matter.

During this span, it's always been somewhat comforting knowing that Mike was always there to help us ink-stained (and now digital) wretches make heads and tails of cable's technology trends, or at least get someone on the horn who could explain it to us in English. And he wouldn't shy away from controversy, either; he'd take his lumps and even give a few when they were deserved.

CableLabs will eventually find Mike's replacement, but he's left some 1GHz-sized shoes to fill. Best wishes to you, Mike!

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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