ACA Chairman Robert Gessner Says ‘Broadband Internet Is Your Future’

On March 3, the American Cable Association (ACA) gathered in Washington, D.C. for its annual Summit; that is, a three day-long event that brings together leaders from across the cable television industry and sheds light on the critical issues they are facing.

This year, CED reports, broadband Internet delivery topped the list of hot-button issues that were discussed.

Perhaps the most noteworthy headline from this year’s ACA Summit ACA was ACA Chairman Robert Gessner’s outspoken support for broadband Internet. Gessner’s endorsement is especially important due to the fact that many small operators are currently torn about whether to stick with traditional video delivery models or embrace broadband.

“Although traditional TV service remains important, broadband Internet is your future,” Gessner stated during a panel adddress. According to CED, Gessner added that the ACA—which is backed by about 800 small and medium sized independent operators— will remain committed to preventing market consolidation that impacts customer choice, ensuring that regulations stay neutral and also protecting smaller providers from “undue market power.”

Another major discussion point at the ACA Summit regarding broadband delivery centered on the evolution of DOCSIS 3.1. Multiple independent operators—like Wave Broadband, for instance and Comporium Communications—were adamant about their reluctance to embrace DOCSIS 3.1.

As explained in LightReading, their reasoning is due to the fact that these companies—and many others—are all in the process of evolving into Internet service providers first and video distributors second; therefore, they don’t want to undergo the expensive process of upgrading to the new DOCSIS standard. These companies, in other words, are eyeing full fiber migrations. It makes little financial sense to go through the costly and time consuming DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade.

The message is clear: The sun could be setting on hybrid coaxial fiber (HFC), and rising for the fiber optic delivery market. So it will be very interesting to keep an eye on this issue and see what conversations take place at next year’s Summit. Will DOCSIS 3.1 officially be history? It’s difficult to say.

Aside from focusing on network architecture, the Summit touched heavily on content distribution strategies.

As Michael Morrison, director of Fioptics Service at Cincinatti Bell explained, one of the biggest issues that his company is facing is determining which channels his subscribers want to see, and also figuring out a reasonable pricing model for them.

“Everyone seems hell-bent on making sure the bundle persists, [but] we cannot continue to raise prices,” he said. “That is what will eventually break the bundle.”

Morrison  urged cable operators to focus on slimming down their entertainment options, which lends further credence to the argument that skinny bundles are quickly rising in popularity.

Were you at the ACA Summit this year? We want to hear your highlights.