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The Road Ahead in Cable Tech

11:10 AM -- It may be just me, but the New Year seems like a great time to look ahead in the cable industry. There's the glitz of International CES , the innovation hotbeds of CableLabs and SCTE's Canadian Summit, and the anticipation of events like The Cable Show and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, where programming ideas and technological advancement converge.

Maybe it's the buzz about IP technology, IPv6, "video everywhere" and other new concepts, but it seems to me that this year is edgier than ever. New technologies and competitive offerings on the horizon hold both challenges and opportunities for cable operators, and in both cases, a lot of ways to improve their own competitive positioning.

As with any new challenge or opportunity, there is an attendant need for education. We're going to have to invest in preparations today if we're going to make the most of the changes we'll encounter tomorrow.

Education comes in all shapes and sizes, but here are some opportunities that should be highlighted, underlined and circled on everyone's near-term roadmaps. Over the next several weeks, we're going to come up on deadlines for two programs that can improve our industry: Abstracts for papers to be presented at the Spring Technical Forum are due on January 14, and applications for the first-ever SCTE Leadership Institute with Tuck at Dartmouth are due by February 15. (See SCTE Goes to School.)

The Spring Technical Forum brings together the thought leadership of SCTE, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and CableLabs in a collaborative environment that’s designed to promote communication among peers in the industry. It's a place to satisfy the thirst for new thinking, with ideas that are as much as three to five years off. In short, the Spring Technical Forum is an opportunity for operators; programmers; and both startup and established vendors and academics to advance cable technology by sharing successes, failures and visions of the future.

But even the best of new ideas and strategies require leadership to execute them. The SCTE Leadership Institute with Tuck at Dartmouth is designed to take the education of cable technologists to the next level.

Working with the faculty at the world-renowned Tuck School of Business, SCTE has put together an immersive educational experience that is intended to foster the communications, leadership, business, operations and critical thinking skills that can help operator, programmer and vendor attendees to anticipate and manage the changes that are ahead for our industry. Industry leaders such as Glenn Britt and Mike LaJoie (Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s president and CEO; and EVP and CTO, respectively) will be guest speakers at the program sharing their insight. There are a limited number of seats available for the inaugural class, scheduled for April 26-30.

Similarly, education, new ideas, and cable strategies will be part of the upcoming SCTE Canadian Summit on March 8-9 in Toronto. Technical sessions include those on business services, next-generation video service architectures and platforms, home networks, and our old friend, the upstream.

As you prepare to dive into the deep end of this year’s hot technologies, please take a moment to consider involvement with one or more of the above programs. Whether it's sharing your own knowledge with your peers, or gaining insights from world-renowned experts, the opportunities are there for you to make the most of the technological change that lies ahead.

Happy New Year!

— Daniel Howard, SVP, Engineering & CTO, Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE)

This is the latest installment of "Technically Speaking with SCTE," a new monthly blog of interviews and columns to provide Light Reading Cable readers with timely updates on the SCTE's initiatives and activities.

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