Cable is Full-Steam Ahead at National Show
For the first time in years, there was a genuine sense of urgency and focus at The National Show as cable industry concerns about satellite and telco competition crystallized. In terms of the show format, killing off always-dead Wednesday proved a hit this year, but the net effect was simply to front-load activity on the new Sunday start-date of the U.S. cable industry's annual convention. With no fewer than 30 meetings with vendors from all aspects of the cable ecosystem and MSO chats on the side, the last 2 and half days in the City by the Bay have provided this analyst with a good read of the industry's pulse. So what's hot? In video it's digital simulcast rollouts, whole-home DVR and downloadable conditional access solutions (CableCard may soon prove DOA). In the IP world, MSO's psychotic race to boost cable modem access speeds to infinity and beyond, as Buzz Lightyear would say, put wideband DOCSIS front and center. Vendors squabbling over competing implementations at the show are eagerly awaiting a verdict from CableLabs on its officially-sanctioned wideband implementation (MPEG or packet-based) this week. Ironically, with PacketCable NCS voice services now finally ramping, MSOs are increasingly infatuated with SIP as they work to flesh out fixed-mobile convergence strategies, add voice applications with sizzle and support video communications. And with SIP seriously on the roadmap, PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) now plays prominently in cable's future. Existing PCMM policy server players CableMatrix, Camiant and C-COR were showing their wares, while Juniper Networks unveiled a solution based on its SDX platform and Siemens said it would throw its hat in the ring as well. Look for all this and more in my in-depth National Show roundup in the next issue of CDN.