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Cable Builds a 'Nation’

3/28/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Cable is everywhere.

That’s the message the National Cable & Telecommunications Association wants to impart with “Broadband Nation,” a 22,000-square-foot exhibit that will be the centerpiece showcase at The Cable Show ’09 in Washington, D.C., this week.

The exhibit, featuring demos from more than 35 companies, is supposed to depict how consumers in urban, suburban and rural areas are using cable’s high-speed Internet services today — and into the future.

“So much of what our member companies do goes beyond the home, so we thought we’d build a whole city,” said NCTA vice president of industry affairs Mark Bell.

The goal with Broadband Nation, he said, is to “take a big technology story and boil it down to an exhibit.”

With The Cable Show taking place in the nation’s capital this year, the industry has the opportunity to get in front of policymakers and demonstrate the breadth of technology cable brings to consumers and businesses, NCTA vice president of communications Brian Dietz said.

One policy issue that’s front and center this year: Congress has approved $7 billion for broadband-network buildouts as part of the economic-stimulus package.

“The messages are that broadband plays an important role in Americans’ lives already,” Dietz said. According to NCTA, more than 38 million consumers subscribe to broadband cable service.

Broadband Nation’s eight different areas will be connected by a road running through the exhibit: a visitors’ center, a network operations center, a coffee shop, an urban loft, a suburban home, a rural school, a rural clinic and an entertainment complex.

Comcast, the incumbent cable operator in the D.C. area, will provide a total of 100 Megabits per second of bandwidth dedicated to Broadband Nation, Bell said, via two 100-Mbps enterprise data circuits. In addition, Comcast will provide DOCSIS 3.0 50-Mbps downstream/10-Mbps upstream service to support the exhibit's videoconferencing demo.

Scripps Networks and HGTV will decorate and furnish the homes in the exhibit, which carries the theme “Main Street America.” LG Electronics will provide more than 40 high-definition flat-screen TVs and computer displays throughout it.

In the suburban home, Motorola is going to show multiroom DVR and media mobility. Cisco Systems, meanwhile, will outfit the urban loft with interactive TV and portable-media demos.

Other companies participating in the exhibit include Comcast Media Center, which will be showing a live demo of its hosted interactive-TV applications service, HITS AxIS; Samsung Electronics and Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB), with demos of Tru2way-based set-tops; and Intel, which will show the Widget Channel’s Internet-delivered on-screen information services, like news and weather, developed with Yahoo.

In addition, Broadband Nation will include a car outfitted with WiMax broadband wireless service, provided through Clearwire, which has been funded by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Sprint Nextel, Intel and Google. (A WiMax-connected laptop also will be featured in the coffee shop.)

A full list of partner demonstrations is available on the Cable Show site at

Broadband Nation will feature eight showcase areas:

Visitors Center: Enterprise services and telepresence technology.
Cable Network Operations Center: advanced network-management tools.
Coffee Shop: Broadband wireless video and music streaming and download services, multiplatform news and information.
Suburban Home: Whole-home entertainment and automation technologies, home healthcare services, smart appliances, energy management, advanced interactive TV, digital voice services.
Rural School: In-classroom broadband-enabled technology, distance learning, online collaboration, school healthcare, Internet safety applications
Rural Clinic: Secure storage and transport of electronic medical records, remote doctor/patient visits, remote specialist consultation, and the latest in automated patient check-in and online care
Entertainment Complex: 3-D digital cinema and TV, 3-D broadband video games.
Urban Loft: Connected home platforms, mobile media, interactive TV.


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