In the blink of an eye, broadband has changed the world, and keeps on changing it.
That was the message from NCTA president Kyle McSlarrow at the cable trade association convention's opening general session in Washington Wednesday.
He signaled legislators in his host city to use a light regulatory hand.
"We should tread cautiously before assuming that traditional regulatory responses apply in a marketplace that is experimenting, growing and changing before our eyes," he said.
McSlarrow said the convention was in Washington for the first time in 37 years because they knew it would be a time of change, before adding: "we had no idea."
The change cable helped shape was bringing broadband to America, he said. McSlarrow called it a story "of great promise and promises kept. Fifteen years ago, he said, there was no broadband. Five years ago, "There were still more Americans listening to the screech of a dial up modem than broadband customers."
McSlarrow said the state of the industry was good even in the current economy.
"It is impossible for any of us to think about our customers or our businesses without also
thinking about today's economic and financial backdrop," he said. "Fortunately, we have every reason to believe that our industry will continue to be resilient and grow by continuing to provide consumers real value for services they want and need," noting that "the value proposition for consumers has never been greater."
"The investment in high-quality programming, increasingly high-definition programming . is being rewarded by consumers and widely recognized as shown by the number of Emmys and other awards cable programming now garners."
McSlarrow said consumers are getting higher broadband speeds for the same price and paying less per channel for cable programming that continues to bring home the awards (the industry won a number of Peabody awards Wednesday.
Not only will cable do well in the down economy, McSlarrow said, but it can be an engine for growth.
He said that the industry added 7 million net customer connections for video, broadband and phone in 2008. Moreover, the industry is investing $14 billion in network upgrades and expansion this year.
The industry supports 1.5 million jobs, he said, and cited one study indicating that it may be responsible for 5% of all the jobs created between 2002 and 2007.
But cable's contributions extend beyond the balance sheet, according to McSlarrow..
The industry contributes $2 billion each year to charities, and devotes $750 million in airtime to worthy causes.
Where is the industry going next? In the proverbial blink of an eye. "Wherever the consumer wants to go."