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Mmm, mmm, good!

Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:00pm
Gary Arlen, Contributing Editor; Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor; and Brian Santo, Editor
That’s what The Cable Show was, mmm, mmm, good!

The NCTA Cable Show 2007 was a huge stew pot for new technologies,
new business strategies and lots of information about what subscribers really want.

Practical cooks know that when you have a wide range of ingredients at hand, it’s time to consider mixing them into a hearty stew or gumbo. The cable industry has a variety of new technologies to work with, and dozens of products it can put in the mix. The NCTA Cable Show 2007 in Las Vegas last month was a metaphorical pot for all of it.

The first ingredient sliced and diced was OCAP, the OpenCable Application Platform, at the first OCAP Developer’s Conference, which preceded the formal opening of The Cable Show.

The technology will let any OCAP-enabled set-top run any OCAP application, which will make the highly fragmented cable market appear unified.

Naturally, application developers would love to have a big monolithic market of cable subscribers. There are an estimated 65 million cable TV subscribers today. If just the top four MSOs (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Cox) were to adopt OCAP, that would represent access to three-fourths of the total.

For at least three years, the cable industry kept saying that OCAP deployments are imminent, and to date, there’s been minimal OCAP in the field. At the developer’s conference, execs from Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Brighthouse asserted they’re nearly set to support OCAP this year. Comcast said it is preparing to start supporting the technology early next year.

Many individual systems based on Scientific Atlanta headends are ready or will soon be ready to support OCAP. Systems with Motorola headends aren’t ready for the OCAP upgrades yet, according to many.

Panelists
Panelists (L to R) Arthur Orduna, SVP, policy and product, Advance/Newhouse Communications; Mike Hayashi, SVP, advanced technology & engineering, Time Warner Cable; Chris Bowick, SVP, engineering and CTO, Cox Communications; and James Mumma, director, iTV development, Comcast Cable, discuss OCAP technology during “O is for Outlook” at the first OCAP Developers Conference.

Time Warner Cable’s experience appears typical. It has SA headends in about 70 percent of its footprint, ready to support OCAP-enabled set-top boxes, said Mike Hayashi, TWC senior VP of advanced technology and engineering.

The rest of TWC’s systems are Motorola. “We’re hoping for a trial by the end of this year, and to move in to deployment next year,” Hayashi said.

Brighthouse is in a position similar to TWC, with the majority of its systems based on Scientific Atlanta, according to Arthur Orduna, SVP of policy and product at Advance/Newhouse Communications, which runs Brighthouse.

Comcast is trialing OCAP in four markets, and is looking to have 80 percent of its systems OCAP-ready by the end of the year. James Mumma, Comcast’s director of iTV development, said he expects Comcast will start shipping OCAP boxes in early 2008.

Cox is trialing OCAP in two markets, expects to have five systems ready for OCAP by the end of the year, and to support OCAP company-wide in the first half of 2008, according to Cox CTO Chris Bowick.

That’s from a headend perspective, however. Even if any given system can support OCAP, the system will still be populated with varying, but large, percentages of set-tops that are not OCAP-enabled.

The pace of OCAP deployment is no small issue for application developers of all stripes who would like the opportunity to address a national market, but who need to be convinced the cable industry is dedicated to OCAP.

Early in 2006, CableLabs had informally sounded out operators and developers about a possible developers’ event that would have been held in New York City last year, but it never happened. Some in the programming community interpreted it as a cancellation and decided the cable industry was not serious about OCAP, said Richard Doherty, director of Envisioneering, a consulting group in Seaford, N.Y.

Despite healthy attendance at the OCAP Developer’s Conference and the seeming enthusiasm of the attendees, Doherty said many of the programmers he’s been talking to remain skeptical about OCAP, and may hold back on OCAP application development until someone else paves the way. “Viacom isn’t going to do anything until Fox does,” he said.

Vendors at The Cable Show had plenty of OCAP-related products and services, an indication that they think the MSOs really are serious about deploying the technology this year.

Scientific Atlanta announced an OCAP developer program with interactive TV specialist itaas. Motorola likewise was showing an OpenCable Application Platform Simulator and software development kit (SDK) that allows cable companies and application developers to participate in a collaborative environment to build customized TV software solutions and deliver a more personalized consumer experience.

Digeo introduced two OCAP-compatible products, the Moxi for OpenCable Application Platform and Moxi HD Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

What happens in Vegas
“What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas,” proclaimed George Bodenheimer, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, ESPN Inc. & ABC Sports. Cable has too good a story to tell. Pat Esser, president, Cox Communications Inc., said that customers expect personalization.

Pace Microsystems has engineered its boxes so that they can be OCAP-enabled with a software download. The company showed its Tahoe running in “native” mode, running TV Guide, then being upgraded to OCAP, live, in as little as 7.5 minutes. Panasonic featured its PCH2180 OCAP HD-DVR set-top box, OCAP-based high-definition Plasma televisions and OCAP application development tools.

Mixed Signals introduced a new module for its Sentry Digital Content Monitor that gives operators the ability to decode an entire OCAP carousel, the ability to alert and be notified when files are added, removed, or changed, and enhanced monitoring capabilities for the video IP network.

With the commitment by many of the country’s largest MSOs and leading vendors, it’s now up to developers to come up with interesting applications, the panelists said. A few key pieces of advice were given.

First, applications that help bind or converge two services (e.g., caller ID on TV screens) will be looked upon very favorably. Operators are likely to introduce one application at a time, so come prepared to explain – complete with a business model – why an operator should deploy your application instead of some other one. Also, have what Bowick called a crawl/walk/run strategy – show how the application can work on a low-end set-top, a high-end set-top, and have some idea of how it can be improved or expanded upon in the future.

“We defined the tools; we defined the sandbox,” said Orduna. “You have to fill it with sand. Amaze me.”

Setting the table
“What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas,” said George Bodenheimer, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN and ABC Sports. Cable has too good a story to tell.

Bodenheimer spoke at the show’s opening session, “Cable 2.0: Growing Cable’s Next Business Opportunities.” Participants in the session gave a top-level view of the cable business: a variety of new services linking a variety of devices, everything from downloading games directly to TVs to inserting interactive ads in content streamed to handhelds.

Glenn Britt, president and CEO of Time Warner Cable (TWC), summed up the consensus from the panel when he said, “The sky is the limit. We just need to keep innovating and listening to consumers.”

Wireless is still an area in flux, Cablevision Systems Corp. COO Tom Rutledge said, but it inevitably comes back to the deep relationship the operators have with their subs.

On-demand offerings continue to be a weapon against satellite competition, Comcast COO Stephen Burke said, but he noted that on-demand is still in the third or fourth inning of play.

As for interactive and advanced advertising, Britt said the technology is there to put it on the TV, and Burke added that cable is shifting from a one-way medium to a two-way one. Cross-platform products and commercial service offerings are also on the way.

Burke made many heads nod by saying that it’s hard to implement five new businesses at the same time. To move too quickly and make major changes is a big mistake, he said. He added that cable companies have created new multibillion dollar businesses, “three, four, five in a decade.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin joked that
he was surprised to be at The Cable Show.

Then there was the keynote speaker, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who joked that he was surprised to be there. He said he and his wife were fighting about who should change a diaper, and that she threatened to call Multichannel News if he
didn’t volunteer to do the honors.

Martin said he supported cable’s entrance into the voice market just as he’s supporting the telco’s entrance into the video market. He reiterated his resistance to net neutrality regulation, and he prefaced his support of multicasting with, “I don’t want to incite a riot at the very start of the show . . . ” As for July 1, he admitted he doesn’t see eye to eye with everyone.

He said he’s simply fostering competition, whether in voice, broadband or video – and on a neutral basis. He encouraged an open dialogue with the Commission, where he promised cable operators a fair hearing, serious consideration and a lively debate. He was spot on with the lively debate comment.

At a subsequent session, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow responded with the abundance of diplomacy one uses when addressing someone you disagree with on almost every issue. “We appreciate his offer to engage in a dialogue,” McSlarrow said.

“When the government encourages growth and regulates with a light touch, consumers win,” McSlarrow said. And if the audience inferred the FCC under Martin is doing the opposite, so be it.

Chunks of DOCSIS 3.0
Comcast Chairman/CEO Brian Roberts, in a flashy introductory segment for the “State of the Industry” session, presided over the first public demonstration of a wideband cable modem, downloading an entire encyclopedia, including photos and a visual dictionary, in barely four minutes – a two-week task via dial-up modem, Roberts said.

“With wideband, we’re going to unleash a whole new era of video,” Roberts predicted, as Arris Chairman and CEO Robert J. Stanzione, seen onscreen from a remote location, transmitted hefty visual and multimedia files at 150 Mbps, using DOCSIS 3.0 technology, onto screens on stage at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center ballroom, where about 4,000 attendees witnessed the demonstration.

He later told CED that the demo organizers originally considered downloading a graphics-rich 4-gigabyte videogame – another potential use of the new technology – but they deemed an encyclopedia more dramatic, given the audience.

Roberts said he sees a “big future” in bringing wideband to videogames with “play across the network.”

There is no current schedule for DOCSIS 3.0 deployment, Roberts said after the conference session. But he emphasized that “the best part is that it is incremental and backward-compatible” so it will be “quite easy” to implement.

“The tough part is to find four channels to bind the pieces together,” he said.

After the wideband demonstration, three other media top executives joined Roberts on stage for a discussion of industry trends. Time Warner Cable CEO Richard Parsons echoed the view that the prospects for cable have been “enhanced exponentially” by broadband. He said that broadband technology helps all of his company’s businesses, including distribution and production.

“Wherever value falls, we’re going to be there to catch it,” Parsons said. He also noted that scale is an inevitable part of the industry’s future, suggesting that more consolidation and vertical integration are on the horizon.

News Corp. President/CEO Peter Chernin agreed: “This is a world where the big get bigger,” and that more acquisitions are likely.

Chernin also extolled mobile opportunities, characterizing mobile video as in the “same place where cable was in the late ’70s. No one knows what it will become.” He claimed that mobile carriers, after having tried to develop content on their own, are now coming to companies like News Corp. to “program and organize” mobile content.

Philippe Dauman, president/CEO of Viacom Inc., in response to a question from session moderator William Kennard, managing director of the Carlyle Group and former FCC Chairman, about bypassing cable delivery and going directly to consumers, said that “we want to [reach] consumers wherever they are.

“We think we can use technology really well to provide consumers the experience they are looking for.”

Advertising as the base
A good chunk of The Cable Show was dedicated to advertising, which is only sensible given the amount of money advertising stirs into the business to hold everything together. What with ad zapping devices, DVRs that skip commercials, and the migration of ad money to the Web, the TV advertising model has to change. The cable industry is complying.

“In this world, if we are not changing and reacting, then we’re not going to grow,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president of global media and sports marketing at Budweiser, to kick off the session entitled, “Sponsoring the Future: Advertising’s Advanced Adventure.”

It was a lot easier to market and reach consumers 25 years ago when there were only three major networks, Ponturo said. But consumers’ media habits have changed with the times. Even though the amount of time adults ages 21 to 34 watch TV has risen 12 percent in the last 10 years, and even though this is still more than four times the amount of time they spend on the Internet, the way they consume content is much different.

So cable operators are looking at interactive elements such as telescoping, said TWC COO Landel Hobbs. TWC is also looking at models to disable the fast-forward capability of DVRs – the same capability available for its VOD and StartOver services.

“StartOver indexes better than [other] VOD,” Hobbs said, noting that viewers cannot fast-forward or skip through commercials while watching the program through this technology. That makes the commercials even more valuable to advertisers, he noted.

He asserted consumers don’t mind commercials as long as they can time shift.

VOD is a spectacular platform, said Oxygen Media’s President and COO Lisa Gersh, but it’s missing something critical. “We need dynamic ad insertion. The more VOD goes without ads, the more consumers will expect to not have them.”

Hobbs said the VOD platform has to be standardized. He added that advertisers want three things: 1) a way to measure engagement; 2) VOD assets such as telescoping; and 3) data. We can do the first two, he said, and we’re working on the third.

State of the Industry
“State of the Industry” general session panelists: (L to R) William Kennard, managing director of The Carlyle Group; Brian Roberts, chairman & CEO of Comcast Corp.; Peter Chernin, pres./COO of News Corp.; Philippe Dauman, president & COO of Viacom Inc.; and Richard Parsons, chairman & CEO of Time Warner Inc.

David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, agreed entirely. What good is any advertisement unless you can measure its results?, he asked. “Nielsen needs to evolve because we’re evolving, and way behind us is the measuring system. As an industry, we don’t have a universal platform.” We need to create a uniform platform for interactivity – that is the ultimate opportunity, he said.

Misperceptions and sheer ignorance about interactive advertising are the biggest barriers to ad sales on VOD and other advanced technology platforms, according to the audience at the session on “Making Money Through New Advertising Technologies.”

Using interactive polling devices, attendees were asked to vote on a number of topics during the session, which was part of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau conference track at the NCTA convention.

Audience members responding to the “biggest barrier” question overwhelmingly cited “education” of advertisers and agencies as their major challenge. Fifty-one percent of respondents clicked that choice, compared to 24 percent who cited measurement, scale (14 percent) or content (11 percent).

Speakers on the panel described problems of perception, noting that advertisers – especially local or regional marketers – do not yet have an adequate appreciation of how advertising is targeted and inserted into video-on-demand programming. There is also confusion about broadband and VOD ads.

The panelists suggested that local ad sales representatives try to help advertisers understand cable’s migration toward innovative ad platforms. They acknowledged the current early-stage problems, as advertisers try to grasp the pricing structure for VOD.

“We stress conversion,” said Matt Timothy, senior vice president-new media at National Cable Communications. He suggested use of data to show how the number of VOD users is growing.

“That’s a great starting point as we educate clients,” Timothy said. “It plays to our sweet spot.”

“You can’t lose by giving them [audiences] more control,” he added, suggesting that ad salespeople stress the value in viewer retention by enabling such customer capability.

Fran Mallace, vice president and general manager of Cox Media-Arizona, enunciated a simple tactical approach to working with advertisers – a “follow the money” game plan.

“We go to the ones [advertisers] who have enough ad budgets” to handle VOD ads, she said.

Her view supported those of other panelists who suggested that commercials on VOD are most valuable to advertisers whose commercials also appear on other cable platforms, including linear channels and the MSOs’ Web sites.

Todd Stewart, corporate VP-national advertising sales and development for Charter Media, introduced a case study for a nationwide Charter project based on a series of Halloween VOD programs, packaged as “MonsterFest.” The effort included tie-ins with a dedicated Charter Web site, and attracted viewers to the scary-movie series. Stewart advised that to set up such projects, MSOs should leave plenty of time in advance of the event.

Both Charter and Cox used Navic technology on the backend of their services.

During a press briefing after the session, Gersh told CED that another vital factor in the education of advertisers is the coordination of agencies. Discussing the value of VOD and interactive advertising, she noted that most big advertisers have different agencies for TV and interactive campaigns, and often the diverse agencies do not coordinate their efforts.

Gersh cited Procter and Gamble, and its agency MediaVest, as a prominent example of advertisers who are approaching interactive advertising through an integrated and well-coordinated strategy.

Just a dash of mobile
Most cable operators are still working on the triple play, but they’re already looking to graduate to the quad play – adding wireless to the video, voice and data mix. There’s definitely some cachet to adding mobile devices to the mix, but can the small screen be fully exploited? Maybe not yet.

Despite the explosion of “all things video” during the past seven months, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) president Sean Cunningham pronounced that TV screen advertising remains the most viable video format for consumer acceptance.

Cunningham insisted that consumers feel most comfortable with commercials they see on TV, rather than ads appearing on mobile/handheld screens or even video ads on online video streams. His pep-talk used data from the second phase of CAB’s “Which Screen?” study, which was recently completed by Frank Magid Associates. Cunningham made his remarks to cable ad sales executives at the opening session of the CAB conference track within the NCTA convention agenda.

Only 28 percent of respondents in the “Which Screen? 2” survey said they expect to see advertising on “other devices,” including mobile gizmos such as the video iPod. Cunningham said that 81 percent characterized the iPod as “not appropriate” for advertising, and 87 percent had the same negative attitudes toward ads on mobile phones.

“Television is the only medium with a valid ‘advertising contract’ with viewers,” Cunningham explained, drawing on historical comfort with TV commercials. “As video breaks out from television, TV [itself] grows, driven by cable,” he added.

He pointed out that 65 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “I understand that advertising on my TV is necessary to pay for the programs I like to watch.” At the other extreme, only 8 percent disagreed with that statement – the steepest polarization of any question in the new Magid study.

Even video downloads via the Internet are not as effective as video-on-demand viewing via cable, according to Cunningham’s interpretation of the Magid research. Viewers are more amenable, by a three-to-one margin, to watch TV programs on VOD rather than via Web downloads, he said. Cunningham did confess that this entire process is “early stage behavior,” although he expects that viewers will continue to prefer watching on-
demand shows via TV sets, rather than other devices.

He acknowledged that the recent explosion of user-generated media, such as YouTube content, has shifted some viewing toward alternative display screens. But he said that the new access tools have not diluted the attention that viewers devote to TV commercials. In fact, Cunningham said that even digital video recorders have not affected cable shows in the same way that they cut into broadcast TV commercial viewing.

Citing data from the Magid study, Cunningham said that 41 percent of broadcast TV shows are time-shifted in DVR households, compared to 19 percent of original cable TV shows that are time-shifted.

He exhorted cable ad sales managers to “tell advertisers that the most expensive part of the broadcast schedule may never be seen.”

Despite the vision of PC and TV convergence, Cunningham stressed that cable TV and video-on-demand are the most promising advertising combination.

“The more that video grows, the more our world grows,” he said.

Glass Half Full
“Glass Half Full” session panelists discussed ways that MSOs can make the most of their optical fiber. Pictured (L to R): Chistopher Poli, end to end system architect, Motorola; Sudesh Mysore Ph.D., exec. director, Advanced Telecommunication Technologies, Office of the CTO, Aurora Networks; Venk Mutalik, chief technologist, C-Cor; Robert Cruickshank III, VP, Worldwide OSS Strategy and Product Management, C-Cor; David Fellows, executive fellow and EVP, Comcast Cable Communications; and Jim Farmer, CTO, Wave7 Optics, at the podium.

Video: Bread and butter
Maybe Cunningham’s right about that. Maybe not. Those big fat data pipes cable is running into customers’ homes could be trouble.

The open nature of the broadband platform allows new operators to slide into the market fairly easily, and it also challenges the whole paradigm that cable operators have built on – that they control the content going into the home.

“Nothing demystifies technology like good video,” said Joe Gillespie, executive vice president of CNET Networks’ CNET division, at the session entitled, “Video’s Online Adventure: New Ideas for a New Generation of Television.” He said CNET.com received two million video streams a day during International CES this year.

But today, someone in a garage in Kentucky can compete with a major network for video content, said Doug Hurst, senior vice president and general manager of non-linear distribution for Scripps Networks. “We have to be beyond the television. We have to own those categories. We want to be where the consumer is, where they are consuming our brands.”

And on the Web, you can give consumers long-tail, or niche, content – a constraint in the TV world, said Karl Quist, founder and president of TotalVid, a completely subscription-based and a la carte video site. If it’s quality content – whether high utility, niche, or just popular – it will draw a large number of people, he said.

This ties into the “consumers want what they want, when they want it, where they want it” mantra, the instant gratification notion that VOD goes such a long way in providing. “The passive cable experience, in my mind, is going away,” said Bob Leverone, vice president of television for Dow Jones Online.

Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform, doesn’t see the passive, or lean-back, TV experience going away. There is the lean-forward, interactive and on-demand viewing experience, but advancements in HD and other technologies still make for quality lean-back time, he said, and the two can peacefully coexist.

It all comes down to three areas, Gillespie said: choice, voice and control, and consumers have more of all three. “User-generated content is best described as the new black.” But, he added, “The world’s not going to end, especially if you have a strong brand.”

Games for dessert
The “Game for Growth: New Markets, New Contacts…No Limits” session pushed the message that gaming is a fast-growing market, that people who didn’t even think about games five years ago are now avid gamers (or closet avid gamers).

Jennifer MacLean, vice president and general manager of games for Comcast Interactive Media, sees this as a two-fold opportunity: 1) it’s a great way to engage cable customers in a different way, and she sees TV gaming as the next step up from VOD; and 2) there are no extra boxes to hook up or buy, and the market is ubiquitous.

And the market is changing. Ten years ago, a 19-year-old male was the average gamer. Today, the average age is 32, and about one-third of these older gamers are women. “These are children that grew up with a keypad and games in front of them,” said Jonathan Epstein, president and CEO of Double Fusion. “We need to get it out there.”

And we need to find new ways to utilize advertising, Epstein said. “Advertising will play, does play, will continue to play a role. Once gaming takes its place, that will double the audience for it.” And perhaps ads can then make the experience free, because both MSOs and media companies require ad support for gaming.

The market’s technology is improving, said Peter Von Schlossberg, executive vice president and general manager of On Broadband Networks, but, most importantly, good content is out there and ready to be tied in with games.

“There’s tremendous logic in having games and TV shows tied together,” Epstein said. We should produce episodic gaming at the same frequency as TV programming, he said. This would be a powerful opportunity for advertisers, who could reach consumers not just once a week during a TV show, but all week long between episodes.

The TV gaming technology is being deployed similarly to OCAP, MacLean said, and OCAP-standard games can hit 50 million households with minimal effort. Once the games are developed (not a small feat, it can take up to 150 people to produce just one), cable operators can bring them to the masses.

Filling the glass
Games, VOD, Web-based video...that all requires bandwidth. The cable industry has always touted the nearly endless flexibility of hybrid fiber/coaxial (HFC) networks. An indication of just how flexible they are was given by speakers on The Cable Show panel, “The Glass Half Full,” who addressed themselves to a number of ways that operators can improve their use of optical fiber – the glass in question.

James O. “Jim” Farmer, CTO of Wave7 Optics, discussed how operators can slowly evolve their hybrid fiber/coax networks to a fiber-to-the-home architecture by gradually deploying FTTH, in a paper called, “Making FTTH Compatible with HFC.”

Cable has been pushing fiber closer to homes, and FTTH is just the logical endgame, he observed. He contended that adding FTTH to an HFC network is relatively easy.

It doesn’t make sense to rip out HFC, he said, but, “Cable can put in fiber in new builds, where they have to put in new wires anyway.”

Video can be brought directly to the home, while data and voice need to be routed through an optical line terminal (OLT), which Farmer characterized as roughly analogous to a CMTS. At the home, video, voice and data are fed through an optical network terminal (ONT). Inside the home, the three data types can be distributed using MoCA or HPNA technology.

FTTH architecture supports nodes typically of 32 homes (as served by a single port on the OLT), which means that cable operators can support neighborhoods of fewer than 32 customers, and add subscribers in increments as demand for services merits.

(Farmer’s paper was an extension of his presentation during a Web-based seminar which remains available on the CED Web site. Look for “Feeding the Broadband Beast,” in the Webcast section at http://www.cedmagazine.com.)

Venk Mutalik, chief technologist at C-Cor, presented a paper written with Ray Thomas of Time Warner Cable, called “Multi-Wavelength Access Networks: A Practical Guide To Implementation.”

Cable operators generally string six fibers to every node, and in some cases, much of the capacity is close to being used or, given the mix of products operators plan to deploy, will soon be exhausted.

The same technologies used to transmit multiple wavelengths in trunk lines are now economical enough to use to increase HFC network capacity. Adding new buried fiber can cost up to $30,000 per mile; adding fiber aerially can cost $12,000 a mile. Adding more wavelengths to existing fiber, however, can cost less than $3,000 a mile.

Mutalik explained that depending on how many wavelengths are used, capacity could be multiplied by a multiple of 10. He said the trick can be accomplished in less than a week; and asserted that on several occasions, it’s been done overnight.

Sudhesh Mysore, executive director of advanced telecommunications technologies at Aurora Networks, presented a paper written with corporate colleagues Charles Barker and Oleh J. Sniezko, aptly named, “Introducing LcWDM – The Next WDM Technology For The Cable Industry.”

Mysore said that DWDM is expensive, CWDM is limited to two channels on the downstream, and that both are subject to a number of signal degradation problems. Both operate in the C band.

LcWDM shifts transmission down to a different band – the O band – where degradation problems are less severe. Mysore’s presentation provided evidence that this was so. The result is that the physical reach of an LcWDM fiber can be extended, and the number of wavelengths per fiber can be increased. Mysore also argued that the implementation of LcWDM is simpler than that of CWDM.

All In for 2010: Fast-Forward Forecast
“All In for 2010: Fast-Forward Forecast” general session panel: (L to R) Ali Velshi, senior business correspondent for CNN; Jeffrey Bewkes, president and COO of Time Warner Inc.; George Bodenheimer, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks & president, ESPN Inc. & ABC Sports and co-chairman of The Cable Show ’07 Convention Committee; Pat Esser, president of Cox Communications Inc. and co-chairman of The Cable Show ’07 Convention Committee; Michael Fries, president & CEO of Liberty Global Inc.; and Jennifer Nason, managing director and global head of Technology, Media & Telecom, Investment Banking for JP Morgan Securities Inc.

An after-dinner mint
To commence the closing session, “All in for 2010: Fast-Forward Forecast,” moderator Ali Velshi, senior business correspondent for CNN, whipped out his beloved ear plugs – similar to the ones that accompany an iPod, but customized to fit the contours of the human ear. “It’s all about customization,” he said. “I need it when I want it, how I want it.”

In this complex cable market, there are still the simple elements that customers look for, such as reliability, responsiveness, relevance and quality, but now they expect personalization as well, said Cox President Patrick Esser. We need to take our products and personalize them, expand on them, he said, especially since cable operators are the only business bringing 100 Meg to the home. “We can’t forget that customers are paying us to do this.”

“Customers don’t care about 100 Meg,” Esser said. “Customers care about what they do with 100 Meg,” with the utility it gives their lives.

We have to pace ourselves, though, said Michael T. Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global Inc. “It’s evolutionary, not revolutionary. We can’t leave the customer behind.”

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