It is hard to imagine what life would be like if we did not have access to hundreds of TV channels, could not surf the web, and had only one choice for phone service. If it were not for the cable industry, this is exactly the kind of world we would live in today. To be sure, the cable industry's commitment to innovation and its willingness to take chances on new technologies has had a profound impact on people's lives.
Join us as we explore the astounding, life-changing products and services the cable industry has created and deployed over the last seven decades. The Cable Center's Cable Today & Tomorrow project takes a close-up look at cable technology and content – how it is impacting the world around us. The project also offers a glimpse into how the industry will make it easier to communicate, be entertained, and stay connected.
Some of the most significant technological advancements in the 20th Century have been developed, created or expanded by the cable industry. The cable industry has revolutionized the television and telecommunications arenas more than once, and is likely to do it again. For instance, if it were not for the cable industry's creation of broadband networks, companies like Google, Amazon and eBay would not have grown to the behemoths they are today. If you remember what it was like to have the Internet "time out" when downloading a document or video, you certainly do not miss those early days. Cable modem services changed these inconveniences when the industry increased data speeds to keep up with consumer demand.
"I have a great appreciation for engineers," said Italia Commisso Weinand, Mediacom Communications' executive vice president of programming and human services. "It's those guys who built the cable plant that today services millions of homes [and delivers services like] Google. We're the foundation. We're the infrastructure and backbone that allows innovation...to be delivered into people's homes, onto their phones, etc."
The industry's commitment to a faster and expanded broadband pipe has fostered the launch of online programming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, and Hulu. The industry has invested over $200 billion in private sector funds over the last 15 years to expand and upgrade its infrastructure to handle the steady stream of new technologies and services. Our Cable Today & Tomorrow exhibit examines how the industry's emphasis on engineering and innovation has affected what we watch and how we watch it.
"Over the past 15 to 20 years, the cable industry has brought many new innovations to the American public," said Bob Stanzione; chairman, president, and CEO of ARRIS. "Probably the most important one in recent years has been the broadband capability that the industry is unsurpassed in delivering. Just think about what it would be like living without that."
As in prior centuries, the sun would still rise if we had no broadband, but the dawn would certainly reveal a different world. Without broadband, 5 million photographs would not be uploaded to Instagram every 24 hours; 2.5 billion Pinterest pages would not be viewed each month; and 6 billion hours of YouTube videos would not be watched every month, according to data collected from Infographic and Virgin Media. More important examples: broadband networks have enabled rural residents the ability to connect with faraway doctors and hospitals without having to physically get there for immediate help; and entire libraries are now available via the Web, opening up new educational horizons for people around the globe.
But, that is only the proverbial tip of the cable iceberg. Indeed, as consumers increasingly demand access to services on their mobile devices, the need for wireless networks is on the rise. "WiFi technology deployed today has become a lifeline service", Stanzione said. "The first thing a person looks for when they're walking down the street, walking into a building or arriving at their homes is to get on the WiFi network, and no one has done that better for the American public than the cable industry."
To meet the increasing demand for mobile access to the Web, cable operators are teaming up to create ubiquitous WiFi hotspots all over the country. By the end of 2014, there will be over eight million hotspots created by cable operators; giving mobile device users access to the Web, email, video, and an array of social media outlets.
The cable industry has been revolutionizing communications for seven decades and it will surely continue on that path for decades to come. We invite you along for the ride as we assess, evaluate and analyze what is transpiring today and what will happen tomorrow.
"The cable industry isn't your grandfather's cable business anymore," reflected Jerry Kent, chairman and CEO of Suddenlink Communications. "There's geometric technological change occurring within the industry and we are making bets on how we make investments in our people, new services and our infrastructure to make sure we keep up with technological change...it's going to be critical that we position ourselves and brand ourselves as an industry that is on the technological edge."