TCIs Return Helps to Spark Texas Show


Potential new products and new exhibitors have lured record
registration to this week's Texas Show in San Antonio, to be held Feb. 25 to 27.

About 2,200 industry members have preregistered, up by
almost 300 from last year, according to the Texas Cable & Telecommunications

Nancy McMurrey, director of communications for the TCTA,
said some of the uptick is attributable to a return by Tele-Communications Inc.
executives. That company drastically cut budgets for trade-show attendance two years ago
in a cost-saving move, but it has since reconsidered its support of state associations.

But McMurrey said attendees also showed interest in several
digital-technology seminars.

'There are so many new products. People are trying to
keep up,' she said.

The exhibit floor has swelled, too, from 355 booths to 373
exhibitors committed for 1998.

Newly announced is a three-part seminar Feb. 25 presented
by the National Cable Television Association, 'Communicating Cable's
Potential.' One segment will focus on grassroots lobbying at the state, federal and
local levels; a second will examine the issue of universal-service funds for schools and
possible ways to take advantage of them; and one will be open to a variety of topics.

McMurrey predicted that the universal-service fund will be
a hot topic. The federal government has ruled that a company must be certified as a
telecommunications provider to tap the fund, but Texas does not certify cable companies as
telecommunications providers. This means that if an operator wants to construct a
wide-area network, the company can't take advantage of the fund, she said.

Without clarification, 'cable could be aced out of a
lot of business,' she said.

A related panel will be presented by CTAM executives,
providing education on communicating rate hikes.

On a local level, Texas operators can hear presentations
from three companies that promote 'call before you dig' services. Texas is the
only state without this information service, which informs construction crews of the
location and ownership of below-ground plant in an effort to prevent accidental line cuts.

Featured speakers include NCTA president Decker Anstrom and
Cable Telecommunications Association (CATA) president Steve Effros, who will grill a
member of the National Association of Broadcasters on that industry's view of
high-definition television and other advances.

The TCTA has rounded up country-western band Lonestar as
entertainment for its annual barbecue.