It’s miracle enough that our world now turns on a revolutionary new platform — the Internet — on which people talk to each other, entertain themselves, transact commerce, run errands, buy essential and luxury items, share life experiences and, well, virtually live.
But now it’s our machines doing all the same things. That’s making the “Internet of Things” (IoT) the most buzzworthy tech and human interest story of 2015. And it’s sounding a wake-up call for the cable and telecommunications companies helping stage the Internet & Television Expo (INTX) in Chicago, May 5-7.
The IoT phenomenon is pure opportunity — and challenge — for consumers. Based on observations at the International CES in January, as the reports in popular media, most every aspect of human behavior now can be monitored, via burgeoning broadband interconnectivity with “wearables” and a huge new variety of “connected” devices. The devices are capable of producing mounds of data about our physiology and general mental, physical, and emotional health — as well as about the world around us.
We can now monitor that world from virtually anywhere, simply with a broadband-connected computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, television set, or some other device. Assuming, of course, we can actually understand and master how to use these new connected tools, and how they fit in with our daily lives and routines. And the impact on what’s left of “privacy”? That’s still being sorted out.
Much is at stake
Internet of Things opportunities and challenges are just as substantial for the companies that sustain, expand and provide access to the Internet. But they are further fraught with massive business and financial consequences. Telecom carriers, for instance, report having invested more than $1 trillion over the past 15 years to build out a national broadband infrastructure that continues to require tens of billions in ongoing investment each year.
Nearly one-third of the $152 billion invested by companies in the U.S. economy last year alone came from cable and telecommunications companies. Wi-Fi hotspots provided just by cable ISPs have topped 300,000, and that number continues to gallop. And today more than 95 percent of U.S. households are able to take advantage of high-speed access to the Internet, offered by a local cable or telecom provider.
So there’s a huge amount of business, and money, at stake. Is increasing Internet connectivity a “disruptor” for the telecom business — or is it an opportunity for further innovation and growth? This is the very question that every company in the Internet and telecom ecosystem asks itself each day, every minute, in the digital era.
The opportunities and challenges in this new environment, in fact, sometimes seem “infinite,” as described in a brief video, called “The Infinite Internet,” produced by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the cable industry’s principal trade association.
Cable, telecom, television and Internet companies are working to assimilate this new business paradigm of potentially infinite opportunity, and potentially infinite risk. These developments have induced NCTA to rebrand its annual trade show for 2015.
“The Cable Show” is gone — succeeded by the Internet & Television Expo (INTX), a more apt description of the businesses NCTA hopes to profile in its three-day conference and exposition, offering immersion in the state of today’s Internet and television business.
INTX, as this video describes, is a live, interactive global event from NCTA that will bring together the entire world of digital media and communications May 5-7, 2015, at McCormick Place in Chicago.
INTX will revolve around the Internet and television businesses from every dimension — economics, policy, technology, innovation and more. It will unite everyone from network operators to content creators to technologists, and to wunderkinds whose ideas are about to rock the world.
Featuring product and service exhibits, presentations and discussions, special conferences and live attractions, INTX is a fresh new take on the trade-show concept, bringing together a broad and diverse group of participants. More than 10,000 attendees — from the U.S. and around the globe — and over 250 exhibiting companies, will talk about how they are tackling the ever-increasing opportunities, challenges and risks in the Internet and television marketplace.
Pundits and disruptors have raised serious and substantive questions about the ability of established telecom providers to grow and thrive in the era of thundering entrepreneurial innovation, an infinite Internet, and the explosive growth of the Internet of Things.
At INTX, industries, companies, and individuals will be looking hard for their piece of the Internet and television future, fighting for a long-term foothold in what has become very rugged terrain. You can join in this dynamic discussion by registering today for the conference.
Everything about media and communications is being reinvented. The way we watch. How we keep in touch. What buttons we press. What we know. How we play. In this world of amazing, accelerating change, now is the perfect time to reinvent the way we share ideas, the way we learn and the way we do business.
Whether — and how — cable, telecom, Internet and television companies can rise to that challenge, will be the backdrop for INTX 2015.
Rob Stoddard is senior vice president, Communications and Public Affairs, at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA). Reach him @NCTACable.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.