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McSlarrow Toutstru2way Progress

National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow announced new sign-ups for cable's tru2Way interactive platform Monday that he says gives it "the critical mass necessary to provide consumers a competitive retail solution for new and innovative services."

Two weeks ago, Sony and the six largest cable operators signed a memorandum of understanding to build on that platform.

Joining that group, said McSlarrow, are Intel, Digeo, and ADB. He also pointed to Panasonic and Samsung, which have been backing the plaform since its earlier incarnation OCAP (Open Cable Application Platform).

That means those companies will be able to join Sony in being able to manufacture plug-and-play digital devices including digital recorders and other products that are transportable across systems. McSlarrow had a message for the Consumer Electronics Association:

"We now know what we want to deliver to consumers and how to do it. Let’s get it done, together."

CEA had initially proposed a different platform--VCR-Plus. But, "Tru2Way is going to happen," said McSlarrow.

That announcement came as McSlarrow was making the case for cable's broadband innovation and against regulation Monday at a speech at the National Press Club.

Saying he wanted to take a step back from the "hand-to-hand combat" over the issue of network neutrality, McSlarrow said that a new survey to be released this week shows that his industry is responsible for 1.5 million U.S. jobs, which includes nearly 5% of the net new jobs in the last five years.

But McSlarrow stepped back into the arena for a moment, saying "Unfortunately, this point is lost on many of the net neutrality advocates whose stilted view of networks informs the almost laughable allegation that we have an interest in undermining the 'new world' of broadband to protect the “old world” of linear video . . . in which case, we sure are wasting a lot of time and money enabling all these great applications."

McSlarrow said cable's success depends on a willingness to innovate in an open market, on open platforms, and with a focus on the consumer. "Our industry has embraced open markets and platforms," he said, though he conceded that might not have always been the case in the past.

Asked why one heavy user ("dweeb" was the term of art from the questioner) could slow an entire network, McSlarrow said that capacity is still primarily devoted to downstream information, but upstream capacity has been strained by the rise of peer-to-peer networks. "Yes it seems odd, but that is the reality."

McSlarrow said he didn't know when the FCC would complete its inquiry into broadband network practices, but that he thought it had already shined its light on the issue.

The idea that there is no real competition is a joke he said. There are choices and providers have to be sensitive to what their customers want. 99% of cable's customers are getting exactly what they want and paid for, he said. "We're not against P2P networks, we enable them," he said.

McSlarrow conceded that cable still needed to improve its customer service, but that it was doing so.

McSlarrow, asked to comment on the next four years under either Barack Obama or John McCain. "After the last couple of years, I am ready for everything," he said. But what matters is that there are some people in both that have a sense of the scale of investment and speed of innovation of his industry. "As long as we have them in there and we can work with them, we can play through that," he said.