Sachs: 'T' Stands for Telecom

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WASHINGTON -On the anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the NCTA will edit "telecommunications" into its name.

National Cable Television Association president Robert Sachs said last Tuesday that the trade group will change its name to the National Cable Telecommunications Association, to reflect business shifts that have come about since that landmark legislation passed.

"When our industry uses the term 'cable,' we mean everything from analog television to digital television to interactive TV and cable-modem service," Sachs said in a Washington Metropolitan Cable Club speech. "However, we're now delivering telecom services as well.

"By the end of this month, cable operators will serve 1 million residential cable telephone customers, and cable operators will provide more than 2 million access lines to business users," he continued.

Sachs also talked up the consumer benefits that stemmed from the act, though he noted that "some publications" have written an "obituary" for a law that was supposed to lead to widespread competition for the provision of television and telephone service.

Direct-broadcast satellite services now claim customers in 15 percent of U.S. homes, Sachs noted, and the emergence of the cable modem prompted phone companies to cut their rates for digital subscriber line-based residential data services in half.

While widespread facilities-based phone competition has not yet materialized, Internet protocol-based services over cable are "next up" and should lead to broader local phone offerings, he concluded.

In February, cable's digital-video ranks will rise to 10 million, its high-speed data rolls will swell to 4 million and residential cable telephony will claim its millionth customer, Sachs predicted.

To reinforce that message, the trade group passed out baseball caps and buttons emblazoned with "10-4-1" to meeting attendees.

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