Atlanta -- The cable industry will launch a campaign this
summer to heighten public awareness about the variety of services available over its
With the National Show here as a backdrop, industry
executives last week announced the creation of the Cable Broadband Forum, a coalition of
cable-related companies with the initial focus of pitching the benefits of high-speed-data
services delivered over hybrid fiber-coaxial cable plant.
The alliance consists of a collection of major MSOs,
vendors and content providers.
The CBF was formed as a response to a flurry of press
releases from telephone companies touting their own upcoming high-speed-data technology,
ADSL (asymmetrical digital subscriber line). But one top industry executive insisted last
week that the CBF would not "countermarket" competing products.
The CBF's immediate goal will be to convince consumers
that "they can get high-speed Internet access over cable, without a telco," said
Tom Cullen, vice president of Internet services for MediaOne, who will double as the
"The real victory, or end-game, for this group is not
to communicate with the industry, but to communicate with those outside of this
industry," Cullen said. "I think that there's a general misconception that
a cable company is just a deliverer of linear video.
"The opportunity for this group is to raise the
consumer's awareness that the cable company of old is not the cable company of today
or tomorrow," he added.
Time Warner Cable president Joseph Collins said
high-speed-data services warrant such attention, having created the most excitement among
consumers since Home Box Office launched in 1975.
"We're very excited about the fact that
we're now going to have an organization with a mission of making sure that everybody
understands what it is and what it can really do," Collins said.
Among the CBF's members are such industry heavyweights
as Tele-Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., @Home Network, Time
Warner's Road Runner, America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., Digital Equipment Corp.,
Thomson Consumer Electronics, Motorola Inc., Lucent Technologies and Zenith Electronics
Each CBF member will pay annual dues of $10,000, which will
fund a branding-and-advertising campaign that is still under development, Cullen said.
With some 200,000 high-speed-data customers already, the
cable industry is projecting 1 million subscribers by the end of the century.
Meeting those projections will mean taking the service
"from an interesting development that advances technology for the consumers to a
genuine, mass-marketing product that's generally available," said CBF president
Rob Davenport, senior vice president and chief operating officer of TCI.NET.
TCI president and chief operating officer Leo J. Hindery
Jr. said the nation's MSOs will be the beneficiaries of CBF's efforts, as they
increasingly use high-speed Internet access to offer customers "an amalgam of video,
data and telephone services."
However, Hindery warned against countermarketing the
service to offset increased efforts by the telcos to promote their own Internet-access
"I don't countermarket on a product as attractive
as this," he said. "We're in the proactive-marketing business on this