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Created 6/14/2008

Broadband Library: Two Sides to Every Story: Winter 2007 (December)

Broadband Library is distributed quarterly to all members of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE). Beginning in early 2007, our column "Two Sides to Every Story" has used opposing pages to present contrasting viewpoints on a cable/telecom industry topic.

Reflecting our early experience with broadband, our column in the Winter 2007 issue discusses our different views of the roles the cable and telephone industries would play in the evolution of broadband services.

Dave was Prodigy's director of R&D from its formation in 1984. In "Cable Was the Obvious Choice for Pictures and Sound", he says that from the beginning, he "believed our service would have to include pictures, sound and video to be competitive with magazines and television. . . . [W]e’d need much fatter pipes to deliver competitive digital services." In late 1993, he led the first residential cable modem trial. Shortly after leaving Prodigy at the end of 1994, he participated "in several meetings where telephone companies discussed what they might do to respond to high-speed services delivered by cable companies. . . . [T]he senior telephone technical executives all agreed that the cable plant couldn’t carry reliable high-speed services."

Sandy was at AT&T from 1977 until early in 1996, mostly in corporate strategy. In "I Thought Telcos Would Pave the Path to Multimedia" she says Dave thought "the cable plant could be the ideal path for transmitting pictures and sound to personal computers in people’s homes and how that could transform the way we shopped, banked and were entertained at home. I was not persuaded. I thought it was more likely that giant AT&T, with all its resources, would be the place to create such a large-scale transformation." A decade later, she observes "The old AT&T didn’t do it, but cable has some real competition from the new one. With telco video services a reality, mobile becoming part of the game, and revenues for advertising and interactive services as the next battleground, it looks like the next few years will not be boring."

Next: Our column in the Fall 2007 Issue debates whether networked PC video has become a major threat to MSOs.