Sprawling Cable-Tec Expo will reflect a rapidly specializing sector

As an engineer who has been involved with Cable-Tec Expo for decades, SCTE•ISBE president and CEO Mark Dzuban has seen the show’s “bucket list” expand quite a bit.

No, not the kind of bucket list you put together of things to do before you die. Far from dying, people close to the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers say the 49th edition of the SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo could set attendance marks.

Dzuban is talking about the sheer number of technological categories covered at the conference. Three decades ago, the cable industry could put the technologies it wanted to collaborate on at Expo into three main buckets: satellite video services, RF distribution and technology involved in acquiring video.

At this year’s event, the flora and fauna has expanded to wireline access networks, wireless access technologies, internet of things, digitizing the customer experience, virtualization and cloud, operational transformation, video services and security, just to name a few of the categories.

“You don’t see a lot of general practitioners anymore,” Dzuban said. “There are a lot more ear, nose and throat and heart guys. Everything has been broken up into piece parts. I get asked a lot, ‘What’s the hot topic at this year’s show?’ And I’ll say, ‘Based on which component of the body you’re talking about?’ ”

So which are the hottest technology trends this year, in terms of cable engineer interest?

“The work we’re doing on Full Duplex DOCSIS, which will enable 10-Gig symmetrical speeds in the near future is hugely important,” said Cox Communications chief product and technology officer Kevin Hart, this year’s Expo chair.

Hart said his high-interest list also includes the backhaul deployment work operators like Atlanta-based Cox are doing to support 5G wireless.

He also said network virtualization is hugely important. And he said security is “more important than ever before.”

Back in Atlanta, traditionally a cable-tech vendor hub, for the first time in five years, Dzuban and the rest of the SCTE brass are pretty confident of a strong year, attendance-wise. He’s hesitant to too go too far out on a limb on that, however, choosing to count the actual registrants when they show up.

Hart, however, has fewer reservations, predicting “record attendance” of around 10,000 attendees at Cable-Tec Expo.

Certainly, with the exit of the NCTA’s erstwhile The Cable Show two years ago, Expo has become the cable industry’s designated meeting place. As validated by the Cable TV Pioneers which, for the second straight year, is hosting its annual awards banquet in the Expo’s host city after long being synced up with the Cable Show.

The Expo’s premier status will be evident today, when Dzuban takes the main stage at the Georgia World Congress Center alongside CableLabs president and CEO Phil McKinney and NCTA president and CEO Michael Powell. It’s the first time those three organizational leaders will be teamed together on stage, organizers said.

“This will be a great showpiece of how our industry works together,” Dzuban said.

Dzuban said the show now represents all facets of a hugely valued community, with CableLabs focused on forward-looking technologies, SCTE•ISBE fixated on real-time implementation, and the NCTA and ACA representing key policy-making concerns.

All the buckets are covered. 

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