Cable Industry Embarrassed By The Word 'Cable,' Stops Using It

from the so-very-modern dept

In a bid to modernize its reputation as one of the least liked industries in America, the cable industry has a novel solution: to stop calling itself the cable industry. The industry's biggest lobbying and trade organization, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, first got the ball rolling in 2016 when it renamed itself the The Internet & Television Association. Despite the lion's share of its last mile still being on coaxial cable, the industry apparently hoped that eliminating "cable" from its name would somehow modernize the sector for the fiber era.

Not to be outdone, the American Cable Association, the policy and lobbying arm of over 750 smaller and mid-sized cable companies, has followed suit. It announced last week it too would be dropping the word cable from its name, and will now be called America’s Communications Association. Organization boss Matt Polka put it this way:

"“It’s all about the communications and connections our members provide,” said ACA Connects’ Polka. “Even though our industry and technology are changing so rapidly fueled by our members’ broadband deployments, what’s most important for our members and their customers is the ability to communicate freely and connect in their homes and businesses in countless new ways. With this name change, we’re recognizing that communication is the priority, not the medium."

Of course nothing else has actually changed. While a few bigger cable ops have flirted with full fiber to the home, most mid-to-small sized cable operators still lean heavily on coaxial. Even the faster DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades the sector has been pushing for several years (now under the misleading term "10G") leans heavily on... cable. And of course nothing about the name change will shift a negative public perception built over the last thirty years of an apathetic, geographically-monopolistic sector that not only charges an arm and a leg for substandard service, but often treats these customers with a sort of active disdain.

The name change doesn't change the fact that the ACA and its members provided full-throated support for the Trump and Ajit Pai FCC's frontal assault on consumer protections ranging from modest consumer privacy rules to net neutrality. Despite its quest to be seen as a more modern industry, Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica notes how Polka and the ACA have also occasionally claimed that more competition is a bad thing, or that net neutrality should apply to companies like Netflix (which makes no sense given it's not a geographic monopoly) but shouldn't apply to cable providers.

It probably goes without saying, but it's going to take more than the elimination of a single word to fix a sour reputation built over decades. Better customer service and lower prices would do that, but since telcos have stopped upgrading their networks in many areas, there's less and less competitive pressure forcing these cable providers futuristic techno-pioneers of tomorrow to try any harder.

Filed Under: cable, communications, internet
Companies: aca, america's communications association, american cable association


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 25 Mar 2019 @ 9:19am

    While a few bigger cable ops have flirted with full fiber to the home, most mid-to-small sized cable operators still lean heavily on coaxial.

    And even "fiber" is just a shortened version of the proper term: fiber-optic cable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jon Renaut (profile), 25 Mar 2019 @ 9:45am

    Communications companies

    I assume this means they're now acknowledging their role as telecommunications providers and are eager to be regulated as a utility

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2019 @ 9:45am

    It worked for the police, why not big cable?

    This reminds me of the many locations in the US that have started to rename their "Police Department" to "Department of Public Safety" as if changing a name that has started to get a negative connotation will somehow fix all the problems they are having.

    Newsflash: If all you change is the name, and none of the behavior, you will just create the same negative connotations under the new name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2019 @ 2:21pm

      Re: It worked for the police, why not big cable?

      "Department of Public Safety" is much more accurate than "Defenders of Public Safety"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jen Erator, 25 Mar 2019 @ 9:51am

    Even "cable" should be "coaxial transmission line".

    I suppose we can assume metallic conductor, how much of the shielding is solid, its characteristic impedance, the plastic types of both jacket and between condutors, and so on.

    Speaking of quarter-wave stubs: the legendary General Electric Company engineer, Steinmetz, an immigrant from Germany to America, who had no salary but $100,000 account (in the 1900s) on which he could draw, was installing electric transmission lines in some South American country that refused to pay, so he slightly modified the length of a section to make a quarter-wave stub. -- HA, HA! ... Engineer joke. Too smart for the site, I bet.

    Anyhoo, glad we're getting the terminology for this 60-year old system nailed down, far and away most important item that I can think of today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2019 @ 10:02am

    Oh yeah, changing your name will certainly have a positive impact upon your public relations.

    The war dept name was changed to defense dept but the name chg did not stop the wars, it just makes them feel better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2019 @ 10:17am

    So they're renaming, but they retain the acronym collision with the Affordable Care Act, which also has a less than optimal reputation. You'd think if they want to get free of bad ties, they'd try to pick a name and acronym that doesn't have any existing stain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2019 @ 10:31am

    If they were going for more accurate...

    They should have just changed cable to cabal.

    ...I'll see myself out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 25 Mar 2019 @ 10:58am

    Actually I dont have a problem with them removing cable from the name. I get they are doing it to help remove the disdain people have about the cable industry from their own names.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Theoden (profile), 25 Mar 2019 @ 12:07pm

    New Billing Opportunities

    With the name change, the need for new business cards, stationery, vehicle and building signage, and other such items will produce a new way to overcharge the customers.

    Look for the line item appearing near the bottom of your bills in the near future!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2019 @ 12:54pm

    Huh, it almost seems then that they do not need distinct lobbying groups for formerly-known-as-coaxial-cable-using-industries and should have just merged into one mega Communications!™ lobbying group with any other relevant entity. It would serve them just the same, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 25 Mar 2019 @ 2:23pm

    It doesn't really matter, people were already adopting loving terms to refer to them such as "assholes" or "jerks". Won't be a problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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