The Need For Speed

“The Cable Show,” an industry trade show for cable TV is underway in Las Vegas. To a certain extent, I’m surprised this show still exists. There aren’t that many CATV companies left.

Comcast Corp&#185. Chief Executive Brian Roberts dazzled a cable industry audience Tuesday, showing off for the first time in public new technology that enabled a data download speed of 150 megabits per second, or roughly 25 times faster than today’s standard cable modems.

This is huge news. Speed is capacity and no one ever has enough capacity – think closets in your home.

It is easy to think faster cable modems mean getting web pages and videos faster. And, of course that’s true.

More importantly, higher bandwidth changes what a data service can provide. I can’t imagine all the possible applications, but this certainly brings us closer to an environment where everything is on demand. For instance, higher bandwidth could allow all video (TV shows, newscasts, movies, sports, etc) to be individually fed.

Since Verizon is already rolling out its FIOS service, with high speed data directly to the home via fiber optic lines, this cable achievement assures some level of ongoing competition.

My fear continues to be cable and phone companies favoring their own (more profitable) products when it comes to transmission speed to the home. It’s the whole concept of network neutrality. But even that becomes less of a factor when there’s a broader pipe.

&#185 – I own a small position in Comcast as part of my retirement plan.

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