Maclean, Amy, OCTOBER 2019
Cable TV Pioneers Salutes Leaders, DOCSIS Innovators

Cable TV Pioneers

 It takes at least 20 years in the industry to be considered for inclusion in the Cable TV Pioneers

which got organizers thinking as they made plans for the annual Pioneer induction dinner. 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the first DOCSIS 1.0 certifications. “I did a quick perusal of MSO Annual reports and saw that the industry will have $40 billion in revenue this year, and as you know, data customers outnumber video subscribers. We thought it important to recognize the people who pioneered this change in the industry,” said Dave Fellows, who is both the Pioneers chair and a founding member of team DOCSIS. With the Pioneers Annual Banquet attaching itself to the tech-focused SCTE-ISBE Cable-Tec Expo since 2017, some DOCSIS appreciation is especially apropos.

Just before Wednesday night’s dinner at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans, Stewart Schley will give a short speech on the import contributions of these DOCSIS trailblazers, with a list of their names appearing behind him. Thirty-seven of those DOCSIS team members will now be considered Cable TV Pioneers. Another 20 or so of the DOCSIS innovators, including Rouzbeh Yassini, Dick Green and Fellows, are already Cable TV Pioneers. (Don’t worry… One speech will cover all the DOCSIS pioneers!) During DOCSIS’ advent, the team probably didn’t envision a need for 1Gbps speeds.

Back in the early days of personal computers, “storing kitchen recipes” was a popular answer for why a household would want one, quipped Fellows. “Social media was in the future and not on our radar, but the benefits of finding stuff out, connecting computers together, was clear. It was mostly a group of engineers set loose to change the world—we felt that,” he said. “When these unsung heroes—male and female— were told the Pioneers were honoring them in this fashion, some broke down in tears. They have dedicated their lives to this innovation, and have never received recognition or rewards, except from knowing they have made a difference.”

That emotional feeling is one often shared by Cable TV Pioneers. The annual black tie gala routinely draws a few tears as inductees reflect on their careers and the people who shaped them. This year marks the 53rd Cable TV Pioneer Banquet, with 25 members of the cable industry to be inducted. The class includes Liberty Global technology vp and Cable-Tec Expo co-chair Bill Warga along with former Time Warner Cable top negotiator Melinda Witmer.

The Pioneers was founded in 1966 during the NCTA convention in Miami. It has grown from a group of 21 entrepreneurs to more than 700 men and women over the past 50 years. With the demise of NCTA’s annual tradeshow, the Pioneers Banquet moved to Cable-Tec Expo in 2017, drawing a record crowd that necessitated an overflow ballroom. “We are very excited about having a full house for our upcoming Pioneer Induction Dinner. This year’s class is reflective of the evolving nature of our industry and we are thrilled to be highlighting DOCSIS Pioneers, along with our outstanding inductees from the operating, programming, marketing, and technology sectors of the cable industry,” said Susan Bitter Smith, immediate past chair, Cable TV Pioneers.

Cable TV Pioneers Inductees