It’s often these days that we see the cable industry described as the stodgy incumbent, supposedly standing in the way of innovation. But almost from the very beginning, cable has been doing the disrupting, acting as a transformative force for innovation.
Starting in the late 1940s, cable was created to improve over-the-air broadcast television by using our network to connect suburban and rural areas outside the reach of reception. The end result? After cable systems were built out across the U.S., we launched America into a whole new way of watching TV and the need to wrap tinfoil around your rabbit ears became unnecessary.
Beginning in the 1970s, cable made programming better, breaking through the limitation of only three national broadcast networks by creating new networks that appealed to specialized audiences as well as the mass market. Along the way, audiences benefited from getting such award-winning iconic brands like CNN, ESPN, HBO, CNBC, C-Span, History and Discovery. Years later, cable helped make all that amazing programming available at your convenience, through Video-on-Demand and the wide deployment of DVRs.
In 1996, Congress wanted landline phone competition – the genesis of the 1996 Telecom Act – and cable delivered it. Today, one in three households get their phone service from a cable operator and consumers are saving billions annually on their phone bills.
And then the cable industry delivered broadband to millions of households across America. Before cable made broadband a household word, your choices to access the Internet were pokey (and screechy) dial-up access or leasing dedicated, high-capacity lines from the telephone company.
Cable made broadband possible by investing hundreds of billions of private capital dollars to finance the nationwide rebuilding of our one-way analog network with a higher capacity, two-way digital platform. Cable broadband now reaches over 93 percent of American households. We have increased broadband speeds over 900 percent in a decade, (with even faster speeds coming this year) and we have extended the reach of our broadband service through extensive Wi-Fi networks. All of that in turn has enabled consumers to receive high-quality video over the Internet and on mobile devices.
We live in a new media world, with more choices than ever before and more options in order to get the stuff you want to see. All of these changes are built on the foundation of cable’s efforts, but our business is still continuing to innovate, forging ahead towards the future.