Cable Companies debut Wideband and talk about Tru2way

Kyle McLarrow, the CEO and President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), spoke yesterday to the National Press Club about innovations within the Cable ISP market. It was an excellent talk that introduced two “new” technologies being spear-headed by the Cable companies, Wide-Band & Tru2Way.

Wideband is the generic marketing term that refers to a new generation of Ultrafast internet service being offered in by cable companies in certain test markets. Comcast is currently testing its Wideband service in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, offering 50Mb downloads and 5Mb uploads for $150. The Wideband service technology is said to already support download speeds in excess of 100Mb.

This is a major development that will rival their competitors’ “Fiber-to-the-Curb” plans. I would imagine that cable companies have a much shorter deployment timeframe for wideband compared to telephone companies getting that much fiber in the ground. I am all for competition and the United States desperately needs to focus on increasing internet access speeds and the availability to affordable high speed internet access in rural areas. So many technologies are cripled by this sole limitation of wide spread fast access.

Secondly, Mr. McSlarrow spoke of “Tru2Way” – Tru2way technology (formerly called OpenCable™) is simply building intelligence into televisions in order to eliminate the need of a provider issued settop box. The technology will open the path for interactive television applications and services and see them run successfully across a broad spectrum of devices. I see it very much as a voluntary standard. The vision is provide programming guides, games, interactive ads, and web browsing with nothing more than a Tru2Way TV and a remote control. The NCTA has already demonstrated this technology at CES 2008 (link). They expect Tru2Way devices to hit the shelves in Fall of 2008.

I like the idea of this technology but I’m leary of incresing cost of Tru2Way televsions. It is also very probable that this technology will be sold to us by the features but has the primary purpose of providing advertisers better information about our viewing habits and give them a platform for more targetted advertising. C’est la vie, this is life in 2008.

To see his entire talk you can view the webcast here (requires Real Player) or read the transcripter here (pdf)

PS: Thank you government deregulation.

PPS: Now if I can just get Comcast to let me bridge their modems without contacting support.

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