In a mere 21 months, the world is going to stop. At least that's the impression you get by reading some of the stories about the "Year 2000 bug," that odd affliction that is threatening to affect countless computers and the software that runs them. Already, major consumer magazines are talking about how everything from the U.
College Station, Texas (population: 63,000) is the site where TCA Cable TV Inc., the 16th-largest U.S. cable operator, with systems passing 1.2 million homes, has tested out its options in the cable modem business. TCA is now moving ahead with a refreshingly innovative approach. Many data service deployments by major cable operators have depended on expensive and time-consuming plant clean up, ...
When it comes to interactivity, it seems that the old axiom of "if you wait long enough, everything comes back in style," can now be applied. Just like the bell-bottom jeans that are flopping all over the place again, and the return of the Volkswagen Beetle, interactivity is making its comeback. In 1992, it was just "around the corner," and then it dropped off the scene faster than a powder-blu...
Consider user-friendliness. When you change channels, do you have to take out one card and plug in a different one? That's a loser. How about a TV set with several slots? But maybe the TV set manufacturers won't put more than one slot in a TV set. Then the broadcasters in town will have to agree on a single scrambling system that uses the same card for all broadcasters in town.
In many ways, though, we really haven't changed anything, with one exception. We're now spicing many of our stories with a dash of "business." Why? Because we've recognized what most people in the industry are also coming to understand: that technology and technologists don't reside in a vacuum. Technology doesn't exist for technology's sake alone; there has to be a reason to deploy it, or even...
Cable operators are in the process of upgrading their networks and rolling out two-way data services in a systematic plant-by-plant migration to a completely digital infrastructure. The speed at which cable plants are being upgraded is limited by the amount of investment needed to achieve low upstream noise conditions required by today's cable modems.
Teamwork. What a concept. Supposedly, that's what Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League, high school football, the cheer-leading squad, Army (Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard) boot camp, and even marriage are all about. Yet, practically speaking, the virtues of teamwork have never really been extolled, let alone practiced, in the cable industry to any widespread, sustained degree.
The business side of Internet and high-speed data services is lagging behind the lightning-quick pace of emerging technologies, prompting cable operators to mine deeper and wider for potential new Internet and data customers. The new business of Internet service, and how it fits into a cable operator's business plan, is a 1,000-piece puzzle, with 900 pieces left to assemble.
Cellular phone subsidies The cellular phone that you bought for $29 from Circuit City really costs a lot more than that to manufacture and sell. You pay the total cost for it, but not directly. There's a subsidy involved, although not everyone calls it that. When you sign up for a year's worth of service, the cellular phone company sends a check for $200 to Circuit City.
Remember that TCI made these deals with two goals in mind: to jump-start its foray into digital TV; and to compel the industry at large to do the same thing via an interoperable, standards-based platform. There's little doubt in my mind the former will be achieved; it's the latter I'm not so sure about.
As broadband operators work to reduce costs and achieve economies of scale, many are consolidating their local networks into large, regional systems by connecting them with digital fiber rings. Where each system previously had its own headend, they are now tied into a regional network of one or two primary signal source "super headends" and several distribution hubs.
It used to be that fiber optic technology, when it first garnered its "state-of-the-art" moniker, was something many cable professionals thought was on par with "Flash Gordon" or "Star Trek" (depending on your age). But today, there aren't many engineers who would consider upgrading or building a broadband network without some amount of glass cable.
The Internet is not only changing the way we communicate in our daily life, but it is also fundamentally changing the way we conduct business. Information exchange today extends well beyond communication within a building or business campus, and the applications go well beyond e-mail and corporate Intranet.
Alex Best has been having visions. No, there's nothing wrong with Alex's health. Quite the contrary. The visions Alex is having are good ones, related to the future competitive landscape. Like many of his cable engineering brethren, they revolve around his company becoming the primary provider of video and telecom services.
And most recently, we learned that the chief of the cable bureau plans to resign. Among other things, all of this change guarantees delays in decision-making. But considering some of the decisions made under the last FCC chairman, delay is just fine, thank you. Once upon a time There used to be seven FCC commissioners, but now there are five.