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First Look at the NCTA’s Broadband Nation

broadband-nation-rendering-3-cable-show-ncta

This morning I had the good fortune to talk with Mark Bell, vice president of industry affairs at the NCTA, about the forthcoming Broadband Nation exhibit planned for this year’s Cable Show. Before getting to some of the details of the exhibit, we talked briefly about how the Cable Show ended up in Washington DC this year. It was no accident. As much fun as New Orleans might be, DC has a lot of relevance to the cable industry, particularly in the first 100 days of a new administration. In addition to reaching out to the traditional industry audience at the trade show, this year the NCTA is paying special attention to policymakers by connecting with them on their home turf.

But on to Broadband Nation. The exhibit will be 20,000 square feet showcasing cable technology in several different types of environments. It’s the NCTA’s opportunity to promote how cable is enabling all sorts of applications from entertainment-based to healthcare-related. The Cable Show website lists some of the technologies that will be demonstrated including networked home solutions, tru2way apps, and WiMAX, among many others. However, in talking to Bell I got a lot more detail about how those technologies will be on display.

The different environments in the exhibit include a cable company, coffee shop, suburban house, rural school, health clinic, urban movie theater, urban loft home, and visitor center with enterprise applications. The home settings show things like home automation and networked entertainment devices. GE will apparently have smart appliances there, including, according to Bell, ones with the ability to tweet updates in real time – a growing geek trend in the Twittersphere. Meanwhile Motorola will show off OCAP-based whole-home DVR and social TV applications.

Bell was very enthused about some of the healthcare applications on display in the school and clinic as well. One of the demonstrations will show how doctors can communicate remotely with patients, check vital signs, review medical records, and prescribe medication to be retrieved from on-site dispensers. The e-medicine field is certainly ripe for growth when you consider both our aging population and the greater broadband connectivity we now have. Motorola showed a TV app for medication alerts and reminders back at CES.

On the lighter side, there will also be gaming demos and 3D videos within Broadband Nation, and the coffee shop will be set up with a Clearwire WiMAX network. As Bell remarked, it’s important to keep the engineers fueled up, both on coffee and Internet connectivity I presume.

Lastly, Bell kindly sent along some renderings of Broadband Nation that haven’t even made it up on the NCTA site yet. Check out the pics in the gallery below. I’ll get my own on-site photos from the Cable Show floor next month, and you can follow coverage on the NCTA’s Cable Tech Talk blog and dedicated Cable Show blog as well.