Broadband Solutions A Major Focus At NCTC Winter Education Conference
The future of broadband will be a hot topic at this year’s National Cable Television Cooperative’s (NCTC) Winter Education Conference (WEC). Industry leaders and cable and broadband providers from around the country will gather in Las Vegas to discuss emerging technologies and strategies with attendees February 16-18, 2020.
The first day of WEC begins with a marketing best practices session. Attendees will exchange marketing strategies and collaborate through a series of interactive activities. There will be open discussions on NCTC’s shared marketing resources, the future of marketing tactics, and how technology is changing the customer service experience. Day 1 also includes a VU-IT! user group meeting and an introduction of Plume, NCTC’s featured technology partner.
The second day kicks off with digital analyst, futurist, and author Brian Solis. He’ll be speaking on how broadband and cable operators can thrive in an age of “digital Darwinism.” Solis’ keynote presentation will focus on digital transformation, service innovation, and customer experience. “Cable television and broadband operators face both challenges and opportunities in their respective markets,” says Solis. Technology continually evolves, while its breadth and impact affect markets, trends and ultimately customer and employee behaviors, preferences and expectations. Businesses have a choice in how they react to, lead, or ignore change."
Solis goes on to say when it comes to cable, broadband, and other digital services, operators are experiencing several key trends that require not only understanding, but also a combination of “iteration and innovation.” “Organizations have to look outside and inside to see where and how to iterate and innovate in customer and employee experience, products and services, operations, and also where to invest in new and complementary opportunities,” he says. “As businesses get better in doing so, they set the stage to become the disruptor, rather than the disrupted, which introduces new business models and services that make the old ones obsolete.”
Day 2 continues with a session with four leaders from NCTC member companies. Representatives from MTC Cable, RCN, ImOn Communications, and Wyandotte Municipal Services will discuss the state of the industry, new projects within their organizations, future outlooks, and coming trends.
“Technology continually evolves, while its breadth and impact affect markets, trends and ultimately customer and employee behaviors, preferences and expectations. Businesses have a choice in how they react to, lead, or ignore change.”
~ Brian Solis
Rounding out the morning sessions for Day 2 will be a presentation and Q&A with Morgan Kurk, CTO of CommScope. He will share his unique viewpoint and vision for today’s wired and wireless networks and discuss tomorrow’s technology trends and challenges.
The second day ends with a lively discussion between NCTC President and CEO Rich Fickle and NCTC Board Member Gary Shorman. They will talk about broadband transit, managed home Wi-Fi, and other important topics
The final day of WEC begins with CableLabs’ Principal Strategist Shahed Mazumder and his presentation on broadband competition. As broadband growth continues, business services have become a major contributor to revenue. However, strong competition in fixed wireless and mobile markets may impact customer relationships for broadband services provided by cable operators. Mazumder will look at all the “gigabuzz” and consider the impact on fixed-line broadband services.
Following Mazumber’s presentation will be sessions on financial insight and an update on what going on in Washington, D.C. by ACA Connects. The latter will focus on such topics as reallocation of the C-band, improvement of broadband maps, adoption of rules for utilizing SHAKEN/STIR, and implementation of the recently passed Television Viewer Protection Act.
After a luncheon with Live PD host Dan Abrams, the afternoon will be filled with various breakout sessions. Topics for these breakouts include: remaining competitive in the rapidly changing broadband market, customer service automation, and DOCSIS—the international telecom standard that permits the addition of high-bandwidth data transfer to an existing cable TV system.
WEC rounds out with two exciting general sessions. In one, attendees will learn about new technologies that may finally allow small cable and broadband operators into the TV ad sales arena. Panelists will explore the shifting business needs of advertisers, how the selling proposition is changing, and what technologies will become important in the ever-evolving world of TV advertising. Representatives from AdCellerant, SpotX, and Imagine Communications will take part.
WEC will close with an exploration of what’s new with a few of NCTC’s industry partners. Leads from CableLabs, Fiber Broadband Association, SCTE, and ACA Connects will discuss trends in their respective markets and what they expect to see in the coming years. NCTC’s President and CEO Rich Fickle will moderate.
NCTC’s broadband initiative is a reflection of major changes in the cable industry. According to a recent report by MoffettNathanson, a leading media and telecom research firm, cable operators are projected to continue to grow their broadband business for the foreseeable future and grab more of the market from telephone companies. “As broadband becomes increasingly important to NCTC members, we will be focused on providing access to resources, equipment, and solutions to help them improve capacity and connectivity,” says Jared Baumann, NCTC’s Vice-President of Broadband Solutions.
Zach Cutrell, Director, Broadband Operations at NCTC elaborates on the organization’s current broadband activities: “We’re working on several exciting projects at the moment, but getting our members connected to data centers at affordable rates with transport deals is currently our number one priority,” says Cutrell. “Once connected to larger data centers, it will enable our members the ability to partake in future cost savings endeavors by the NCTC; such as peering and caching arrangements.”
Conferences like WEC help cable and broadband providers stay on top of changes in the industry so they can remain competitive in their respective markets. Through interaction with subject matter experts, vendors, and each other, attendees can get a leg up on the competition in 2020 and beyond. |||||
Don Simon is Director, Member and Staff Education at National Cable Television Cooperative, Inc. NCTC is a Kansas-based, not-for-profit corporation that operates as a programming and hardware purchasing organization for its member companies that own and operate cable systems throughout the U.S. and its territories. NCTC represents more than 750 small- and mid-sized independent cable and broadband operators across the U.S., in programming and technology acquisition.