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.