NECTA's Newport, R.I., Conference Returns Oct. 23-25 With New Branding

New England Connectivity and Telecommunications Association's new logo
New England Connectivity and Telecommunications Association's new logo (Image credit: New England Connectivity and Telecommunications Association)

The New England Connectivity and Telecommunications Association is the new name for NECTA, the five-state regional trade association for companies in the cable-TV business. This weekend (October 23-25) NECTA brings back its annual conference hosting cable companies, regulators and legislative officials in Newport, Rhode Island. 

The plan is to make the gathering a summertime affair again in 2023, association president Tim Wilkerson said. The last in-person conference in Newport was held in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We think that making that change, even though it’s one word, it's a lot more than than that,” Wilkerson said of the rebrand. “We think that word, connectivity, really symbolizes and encapsulates what the future is. These world-class broadband networks that exist today, but are going to be powering those 10G networks in the near future, are really going to be driving our innovation economy and those connected emerging technologies like robotics, telemedicine, fintech, ed tech, sports wagering and then world-class entertainment like NESN and NBC Sports and NBCUniversal that they rely on.”

Cable-centric associations such as NCTA–The Internet & Television Association and more recently NCTC for years have been looking to make their names say more than just cable while retaining the same basic letters. NECTA worked with an agency, Seven Letter (opens in new tab), on the new name, a new logo and a new website (opens in new tab) that for the first time spells out a mission statement (opens in new tab) for the group, Wilkerson said. A new tagline reads, “Connecting New England.”

Topics important to NECTA include how the $14.2 billion in broadband subsidies under the national Affordable Connectivity Program are handed out, and whether or not the states will adopt parallel programs that help subsidize the cost of a residential broadband subscription, Wilkerson said. The biggest cable companies in NECTA's territory of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont are Comcast, Charter Communications, Cox Communications and Breezeline, Wilkerson said.

“NECTA has always played an important role in shaping public policy, analyzing trends in technology and implementing best practices for these industries,” Mark Reilly, senior VP of government affairs for Comcast, said in a NECTA statement about the rebranding. “With the constantly changing landscape and new technologies emerging on a rapid scale, NECTA’s role will be even more important to help policymakers grapple with advancements of technology and how it can help expand economic growth and improve the lives of all New Englanders. Their refreshed brand and focus reflect where these industries are going, and I am excited to see what comes next.”

NECTA formed in 1961 as the Community Television Association of New England, headquartered in Tilton, New Hampshire. In 1982, the association rebranded and became the New England Cable Television Association. In 2004, NECTA updated the name to New England Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The first, small NECTA conference in Newport was held in 1972 and grew to be a popular destination, peaking in size around the year 2000, the former NECTA CEO Paul Cianelli recalled in a 2012 interview. “We’d literally get every room in Newport and beyond,” he said then. Wilkerson said the decision was made over this past summer to restart the in-person convention, but by then it was difficult to find open dates, hence the October scheduling. This weekend’s conference will be held at the Newport Harbor Island and Resort. ■

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.