Welcome to my world; now let's rename cable

Jim BartholdWelcome to FierceCable; I'm your host, Jim Barthold. You may recall me from my scene-stealing roles at Communications Technology, Telecommunications Magazine, Telephony Magazine, Cable World Magazine or as a flack with the knack at General Instrument Corp.

For those of you who don't know me, here's some advice: lighten up. When writing, my tongue lodges so firmly in my cheek that it takes pliers to pry it loose. When speaking, my foot will usually jam its way in there and push the tongue aside. I don't expect that to change. I'll still address every subject with a mix of cynicism, wonder and respect for the industry's professionals.

As a wise man once said, "Those that can, do; those that can't, write about it." Or, better yet, as Mary Poppins never said, a spoonful of vinegar makes the medicine memorable.

FierceCable is the best way available to describe the industry segment this newsletter covers. It covers cable; television, voice, video, high-speed data and even wireless. But cable as a whole has come to mean so much more than just the wire in the ground or hanging from the poles--although that is a distinguishing characteristic when comparing yourself to wireless.

Some industry organizations have taken to calling themselves cable telecommunications, which is somewhat akin to saying caffeinated coffee, sugar donuts or snowy weather; it's kind of understood.

The folks at Comcast, no doubt for reasons that have nothing to do with this newsletter, hit on something by changing their persona to Xfinity. Of course in typical cable fashion, they picked a phrase that rolls off the tongue like residue from a jalapeno pepper. FiOS (fiber optic systems) rolls off the tongue; Optimum Lightpath, while a little wordy, has a nice ring to it; Xfinity sounds like a car trying vainly to compete with Lexus and BMW.

Still, the whole cable industry needs some new catchy identification. If I could come up with it on my own and rebrand the entire industry I'd do it, but the best my feeble mind can devise is CommPleat--you know, a combination of Communications and Pleat, a fold in the fabric of communications.

OK, that stinks so I'm looking for help from my readers. Feel free to write or call me with suggestions. Unlike many journalists, I pick up my phone even when caller ID tells me I shouldn't and I answer my email. I may not say what you like when you reach me--hell, I may not even be intelligible--but, unlike your everyday software provider, I will provide an interactive experience that has nothing to do with pressing buttons on your phone.

Let's get started with that interactivity. Here's this week's assignment: come up with a catchy new name for cable. Try to stay away from things like telecommunications (too industry vague) or fiber optics (Verizon's been there, done that) or any other techie term. Make it something that you can use to you introduce yourself to a stranger on the first tee.

"Hi, I'm Jim, and I write about (what?)." Bad example, I know, since nobody's ever really sure what I write about, but you get the idea.

That's what this newsletter is going to be all about: look at an ever-morphing industry from the perspective of what it means to the everyman/woman and what the everyman/woman means to the industry. Vendors build equipment for operators to make money and there's certainly interest in how those products work. Operators serve customers and make money and it's interesting to chart the trends of what they're doing. The big question that will be asked here is what makes those customers want to pay?

The ground rules are set. Follow my advice, lighten up and enjoy the ride. -Jim

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