I’m old enough to remember when any discussion of broadband was mostly about coaxial cable and video services provided by cable television systems. Broadband cable was a way to enrich the over-the-air broadcast service, make TV stations easily receivable and perhaps import a few distant broadcast signals. When HBO became available off the satellite for cable systems in about 1975, we knew almost instantly that this was going to be something big. BUT, even in 1975 we had the notion that probably broadband cable could provide more than entertainment television. If you had broadband wires into many homes and businesses, these cables could be used for education and a host of other applications. For example, about this time I was involved with an NSF grant that was awarded to Dr. Thomas F. Baldwin, a Professor and researcher at Michigan State University. The specific grant was to use broadband to distribute educational content, specifically designed for firemen in Rockford, IL. In short the broadband cable running to all of the fire stations could be used to train firemen on a variety of new fire fighting techniques and technologies during the down time in the firehouse. This was before the commercial Internet. Sounds a little primitive now, but everything was a little primitive before the Internet was widely available. For me, this was my first phase of broadband.
I don’t get this question as frequently as I did in 2011 and 2012, but it still pops up occasionally. Thought I’d take the time to explain a little about the why and the background on this conference.
When we first proposed this conference to the CTA (then, CEA) staff in 2010 our stated goal was to increase the attendance of smaller telecom companies and broadband ISPs to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The largest telecom ISPs were already attending CES, but many of the smaller companies were not and saw no reason to do so. This seems pretty silly today, but broadband has moved quickly. Now, nearly every CE device that you see on the show floor is Internet-enabled. Broadband has been a real boon to the consumer electronics industry. And as we move into the world of the Internet of Things, telecom and cable broadband networks are even more critical and valuable. It’s that old network effect, the more the network is used the more valuable it becomes.