Communications Daily reports that USTelecom has now rebranded itself as “The Broadband Association” (although apparently keeping the formal name USTelecom) . The group’s president, Walter McCormack, explained that the branding shift is simply “calling it what it is.” “The future of communications is in broadband”, he added.
The move is but the latest in a long series of name — and mission — changes for the group, which until the mid-1980s was known as the “US Independent Telephone Association,” and represented non-Bell System telephone providers.
USTelecom’s move mirrors a similar rebranding by CTIA — which was at various times the “Cellular Telephone Industry Association,” the “Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association,” and the “Cellular Telecommunications and Information Association.” Finally, a few years ago they decided it was all spinach, and started just calling themselves CTIA – The Wireless Association.
It’s all very confusing — especially the idea that acronyms don’t have to stand for anything anymore. And the changes no doubt provide a nice source of income for all the various branding consultants out there.
But beyond the PR froth, the changes reflect very real changes in communications. In a world of constantly changing technologies and markets, its getting increasingly hard to articulate distinctions between markets.. What seems a nice, well-defined industry one day may sound hopelessly outdated the next. And that’s a good thing, a sign of dynamism. Contrast these groups, for instance, with the National Association of Broadcasters, which hasn’t had to change its brand since it was founded in 1922.
Still, the actual work of these associations may still lag behind the branding. There’s little chance for instance that the National Cable and Telecommunications Association will be combining its operations with that of The Broadband Association anytime soon. The future of communications may be in a converged broadband, but in Washington policy battles, the old industry rivalries aren’t quite gone yet.