Expo 2005 Cultivates a Winning Spirit

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Each June — right about the time spring starts to slip into summer — I am reminded just how special the cable telecommunications industry is. That's when a certain collection of intelligent, industrious and ambitious individuals — who, in their own way, are out to make the world a better place — convene at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo.

For this year's edition, the scene last week (June 14 to 17) was San Antonio, home of the Alamo, RiverWalk, and the powerful, exciting San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association, who are bidding to add to their championship legacy as they play in the 2005 NBA Finals. I was struck last week that Tim Duncan and company weren't the only winners in town by a long shot. So were the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo attendees.

Checking the Scoreboard

Simply put, anyone who made the decision to go to Expo last week made a winning move. Judging by the numbers, it was the place to be. SCTE is proud to report that Expo 2005 attracted 10,000 attendees and 394 exhibitors, including 69 new exhibitors. Reported attendance is a difference of 2% from last year's crowd of 10,200 in Orlando, Fla., and a 10% increase from the last time the Expo was in San Antonio in 2002. The number of exhibitors who graced the sold-out show floor at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center exceeded Expo 2004 by 5%.

I am thrilled to be able to report such an enthusiastic showing. Expo 2005 effectively played the role of industry hub for the week. The Society was pleased to put on a display of “Broadband Progress as Big as Texas.”

Competitive Advantage

I like what Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn A. Britt had to say during the opening general session on Wednesday about the can-do spirit of Expo attendees. In citing cable's advantages in the telecommunications marketplace, he said: “I can't overstate how important everyone is who's attending this show. As new technologies come along, our technical community just absorbs them. All of you absorb these things; you thrive and learn them, roll them out to your customers, and then ask, 'What's next?' I think that's one of our very best competitive advantages.”

Mike LaJoie of Time Warner Cable served as the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2005 program subcommittee chairman. He and his subcommittee worked diligently to select the best few dozen white papers for inclusion in this year's workshop menu and proceedings manual. And they had some 200 papers to choose from, making it, in Mike's words, a challenging process.

The winning entries included the likes of “The Path to True All Digital Networks” by Adelphia Communications Corp.'s Basil Badawiyeh, “From HFC to IP in Three Easy Steps” by Scientific-Atlanta Inc.'s Wes Berkey, “Understanding VoIP Packet Sizing and Traffic Engineering” by John J. Downey of Cisco Systems Inc., and “Details of a Wireless DOCSIS Extension Trial” by Mark Vogel of CommScope Inc., to name but a few.

Papers like these that made it into the Expo Proceedings Manual, which all attendees received, and into the workshop rotation were authored by a true group of winners who know their stuff, the best of the best. We appreciate their devotion to their trade.

Skilled Foote Work

My congratulations to all of the wonderful honorees at this year's SCTE Annual Awards Luncheon, held Wednesday afternoon. In particular, I salute SCTE Region 12 Director and Eastern Vice Chairman Bob Foote of Arris/Telewire Supply for garnering SCTE Member of the Year for 2005. Bob serves as chair of the SCTE Membership Committee.

Here is a gentleman whose unbridled enthusiasm for SCTE and the industry helped to bolster the SCTE membership number by more than 1,300 members over the past year. Upon accepting the award to a rousing ovation in the luncheon's packed ballroom, Bob said “I did not see this coming. I follow a great line of members of the year.”

Everyone loves a winner. A humble winner is even more treasured.

Building Good Teamwork

SCTE, with The Walter Kaitz Foundation, not only put on another SCTE Supplier Diversity Connection this year, but expanded it. This is a concerted effort to reach out to women- and minority-owned suppliers in the cable telecommunications industry.

Like a good ball club seeking to leverage the diverse talents of all of its players, our industry needs to tap the full potential of all of its participants. The Connection has once again helped that happen. My thanks to the sponsors of this special event this year — Comcast Cable Communications Inc., CommScope Inc., Cox Communications Inc., MasTec Inc., Time Warner Cable, and Vozzcom.

In this changing world, the SCTE Board of Directors wants to make sure that the trade group's programs and services remain relevant to our members. At the Expo last week, the SCTE Board of Directors elected Yvette Gordon-Kanouff of SeaChange International Inc. as its new chair, succeeding Wayne Hall of Comcast.

Wayne led us to many victories in the past couple of years and Yvette is about to do the same. She will seek, as she says, to “add value, ongoing value, for all of the members” and to help the society “give everyone the tools to lead in the technology evolution.”

Getting up and down the floor is the name of the game in basketball, and it's no less the name of the game at the Expo. There is so much to see, so much to touch and so much to digest.

This year, especially, the show floor just seemed to stretch on and on and stay as crowded as a community swimming pool on a smoldering August day. Those making the rounds were greeted with end-to-end infrastructure solutions; ideas for improving bandwidth; questions like “Is your network ready for VoIP?”; fiber and coaxial design, mapping and documentation software for the broadband industry; high-end outsourcing services; digital content managers; interoperable network solutions that ease the transition to on-demand networks; voice service managers; triple-play performance ideas; enhanced recording systems; variable bit-rate encoding platforms; and so on. You get the idea.

SCTE caters to one bright group of folks. For them, the show floor again this year was a veritable technological toy store, a perfect forum for developing that winning strategy for the year ahead.

Gearing Up for Next Year

We came together last week for an exciting time for SCTE in the new world of the three Cs — consolidation, competition, and consumers, with an ever-increasing focus on technology and engineering. My hope is that everyone who was a part of this year's Expo will carry the winning spirit on display throughout the week right into next year's show.

SCTE is pleased to announce that Christopher J. Bowick of Cox has agreed to serve as chair of the 2006 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Program Subcommittee. Cable-Tec Expo 2006 will take place next June 21 to 23 (Wednesday through Friday) in Denver.

I am already looking forward to a fresh reminder next June of just how special the cable telecommunications industry is — and how of special the people who work so hard to ensure its success are.

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