In the future, cable systems will have even more of a need to link up with consumer-electronics products. So it's no surprise that the Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers' forward-thinking technology conference may one day be hooked to the annual International Consumer Electronics Show.
As SCTE prepares for its Conference on Emerging Technologies in Miami next week, plans also are afoot to align the conference in 2005 to coincide with the CE extravaganza staged each January in Las Vegas.
"We're interested, and I think what will really happen out of that is that when we do the one in 2005 in Las Vegas, we will do a debrief and see if there were synergies — were they actual or only theoretical?" SCTE CEO John Clark said. "We usually rotate the conference geographically, and I think by going west it just seemed like a natural because we are so close, timeline-wise.
"It will give our attendees the opportunity to 'double-dip' in one trip, and certainly we are all looking for travel efficiencies."
This year's emerging technologies conference is expected to draw about 600 cable technology minds, which is consistent with previous years, Clark noted.
"It's really aimed at high-level technology futurists — people in cable who are directly involved in helping to decide and prioritize the future," he said. "So it is purposely aimed at a narrow audience."
The conference will kick off Tuesday with a session updating the progress of Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s specifications work, including reviews of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification family, OpenCable, PacketCable and CableHome. Paul Kagan and Associates also will present a summit on operational support systems (OSS).
During the next two days, the conference will include sessions covering several technology planks, starting with the technology required to interface with consumer-electronics devices.
The event also will delve into the future home-networking technologies; examine new services, including multimedia-over-Internet protocol; and look at how cable network architecture will evolve over the next three to five years to handle the herd of planned new services.
"One of the overriding themes is the [critical nature of] developing these new services and updating the networks, because really when you look at it, we need to exploit cable's technological edge in competition with satellite," Clark said. "The whole issue of the decline in actual cable subscribers in 2002 was certainly an eye opener for everybody, but creating and deploying these future services and networks is cable's edge in battling with DBS.
"What is different from last year is the urgency going from the theoretical to the actual that's created by the competitive impact of DBS," he added.
This year's conference also will delve into services aimed at a business clientele.
"We will do a variety of things aimed at the business market, as opposed to the consumer market this year," Clark said.