Engineers from cable and vendor companies head to San
Antonio this week for the annual Conference on Emerging Technologies, hosted by the
Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.
The technology-crammed event, which runs Wednesday through
Friday, attracted upward of 1,300 attendees last year. Preliminary numbers for this
year's event were not available at press time, but SCTE president Bill Riker said he
expected strong attendance.
'At a time when technology is at the root of so many
new services, a conference like this is critical' to broadband engineers, Riker said.
The mood of this year's annual event will likely be
significantly more enthusiastic than the mood last year, when cable engineers shrugged off
Wall Street skepticism to immerse themselves in two days of rigorous technical
'E.T. this year is focused on a lot of the turns of
events that are going on, with digital video and things associated with that --
there's legal and political implications this year, along with the important
technology issues,' said Tom Elliot, a visiting executive with Cable Television
Laboratories Inc. 'We always try to keep E.T. very future-focused, this year with
modem updates and digital video developments.'
In contrast, cable stocks are still soaring this year, amid
renewed enthusiasm about bandwidth-enabled technologies.
Pre-conference tutorials start on Wednesday, focused on
data, digital television and advanced display technologies.
Then, on Thursday and Friday, engineers will fill a
darkened room to listen to their peers deliver papers on topics ranging from digital
television and data architectures to alternative delivery techniques like satellite, LMDS
(local multipoint distribution systems), digital MMDS (multichannel multipoint
distribution systems) and xDSL (digital subscriber line).
Elliot will discuss the recent momentum around the
industry's OpenCable platform, while other MSO engineers representing
Tele-Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable will speak, as
A strong presentation load will also come from the vendor
community, with companies like AT&T Corp., Com21 Inc., Microsoft Corp., NextLevel
Systems Inc. (to be renamed General Instrument Corp. next month) and Scientific-Atlanta
Inc. on the docket.
On Thursday, Michael Nelson, director of technology policy
for the Federal Communications Commission, will present his thoughts on regulations and
broadband, as this year's keynote speaker.
Nelson said last week that he was eager to attend the
conference, as well as to give the keynote speech, because, 'I'm eager to hear
about what is going on at the leading edge of technology -- cable modems, digital TV and
fiber optic technology.'