Innovating to meet consumer expectations


The power of the open Internet has enabled video to flood into every crevice of American life.  From the moment video content could be digitized into zeros and ones, the rise of video streams anywhere and everywhere was inevitable. Today, 65 percent of all Internet traffic is video.  And because video can travel the web using Internet protocols, it surfaces on any connected screen.  Survey the landscape and you see video on tablets, smartphones, Internet TVs, and devices like Apple TV and Roku.  It seems everyone is in the video business these days.   Too little to watch is yesterday’s problem; too much may be tomorrow’s challenge.
 
Diversity has always been a stated goal of the video marketplace of ideas.  In the world we are sailing into, we see content of every stripe; every genre, short clips and long series, programming for every ethnic and racial community, and for every political viewpoint a voice. Individuals make videos in their basement and have them speed virally around the world, while large studios produce compelling stories in visually arresting formats.
 

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But the video story will not just be about more of everything, it will also become a more dimensional experience. TV is the original social network; it has always driven water cooler conversations.  But now, social network platforms will expand the TV conversation and make it more contemporaneous. We already see growing second screen TV watching, much of it posting, tweeting and sharing thoughts about content.
 
Cable has long been an innovative force in TV and is working to bring much of this vision to reality. This industry has unveiled applications to move content out of the TV set and into portable devices. Cable companies have worked to shrink the aggravation of the set-top box, by offering cable service over devices consumers already own or may prefer. New platforms are emerging that will put program guides and other consumer tools and services in the cloud, thereby vastly improving the pace and quality of innovation. And many cable companies have launched streaming services that complement the cable experience.
 
All of this is possible because of the robust broadband network – a platform of possibility – that can be found in nearly every American community.  As the nation’s leading broadband provider, cable has injected massive amounts of capital – $200 billion since 1996 – to build a powerful network that is available to 93 percent of U.S. homes.
 
As a result of that investment, cable is increasing Internet speeds over 50 percent a year, and some tiers have increased well over 1000 percent in the last decade.  Today, cable networks capable of delivering speeds of 100 Mbps or higher are available to 85 percent of all American homes.  And while broadband speeds have skyrocketed, the average price has remained stable.
 
Beyond the confines of the home, cable companies are opening up the airwaves to video and Internet access by deploying major Wi-Fi networks across our markets.  More than 150,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots enable cable customers to live untethered. Cable has always believed in an open Internet and we will continue to embrace it.
 
America is an innovation powerhouse that is home to the world’s leading Internet companies, developers, investors and well-connected consumers.  The Internet economy is still made in America.
 
But maintaining our lead will require more hard work.  For its part, the cable industry is focused on innovating faster to meet the changing habits of consumers so we can continue to deliver the premium television and Internet experience that consumers deserve.
 
That is the spirit of innovation, which was felt in conversation and seen in technology demonstrations at the Cable Show this week.

Powell is president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which advocates and promotes the interests of the cable industry.