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Engineering-Wise - United and prepped for battle

Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:41am
Mark Dzuban, president and CEO of the SCTE

A new generation of technology means a new generation of engineers.

SCTE's Mark DzubanAs a student of military history, I’ve always been impressed by the coordination required to keep our country safe. From our nation’s earliest skirmishes to the invasion of Normandy and Operation Desert Storm, teamwork across all branches of the armed services has been essential to the protection of our nation, and the world.

It’s much the same in our industry. When you step back and look at what has made us successful, it’s clear that the contributions of all players have made it possible for us to continue to accelerate the development and deployment of services that attract and retain customers and generate revenue.

As we continue to launch new generations of cable technology, industry organizations are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with operators, vendors and programmers to make that evolution as seamless as possible. I’d like to spend some time here talking about how CableLabs and SCTE – in cooperation with NCTA – work harmoniously to help our industry drive innovation and deploy new services.

In the past, there may have been a perception that SCTE and CableLabs were competitive with each other, with a great deal of overlap in function. The reality is that we’re two organizations that bring different skills to the table but share a common goal: new technology that advances cable’s competitive advantage.

Over the past several years, CableLabs and SCTE have forged a stronger partnership, with each organization’s strengths complementing the other’s. CableLabs’ focus on technology innovation is a perfect match for SCTE’s sweet spot – standards, best practices and workforce development that helps the industry to efficiently and effectively bring the fruits of CableLabs’ labors to market.

Since the day last year when Phil McKinney joined CableLabs as president and CEO, we’ve spent many hours blueprinting ways to optimize the benefits of our relationship for the industry. Similar discussions between our respective CTOs – CableLabs’ Ralph Brown and our own Daniel Howard – and at other levels have filled in details that are essential to any smooth partnership. Building on those relationships, SCTE has increasingly been able to anticipate the needs of the industry, resulting in joint SCTE-CableLabs efforts that are accelerating deployment to scale of new programs that drive workforce training to new levels.

Many of you who attended SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2012 in Orlando saw a first-hand example of how the relationship looks. In front of a standing-room-only crowd, our organizations collaborated on a special session that was designed to increase engineering and operations professionals’ understanding of and readiness for DOCSIS 3.1.

Choreographed by Howard, Brown and CableLabs’ vice president of access network technologies Dan Rice, the session was a 90-minute tutorial on the development progress of the new DOCSIS specification, the benefits it will bring to the industry, and what workforce and plant preparations must be made to ensure the smoothest and fastest rollout possible. With Howard, Brown and Rice pulling together a blue-ribbon team of presenters to provide as much information and guidance as possible, the event forged a template that we expect will be followed for similar joint endeavors in the future.

While the DOCSIS session was notable, it was only one of numerous examples of the enhanced relationship between our two organizations. Whether it’s a seemingly small step, like McKinney joining me on an Expo panel with Dane Snowden from NCTA, or Brown’s seat on the SCTE board of directors, or our complementary work in the other areas, we’re finding that SCTE + CableLabs = immediate and long-term benefits for cable technology.

In business services, for example, SCTE’s new Business Class Services Specialist training and certification draws in part on the Metro Ethernet Forum expertise of CableLabs and complements CableLabs’ work in new access network technologies. SCTE’s parallel and complementary role in network operations is rapidly expanding, creating opportunities for more of the innovation that has become a hallmark of CableLabs. And in energy management, CableLabs’ work in driving down energy use in home devices works hand-in-glove with SCTE’s focus on reducing energy costs and consumption and ensuring energy availability within the network.

No segment of the technology community – not SCTE, not CableLabs, not operators or vendors – can do this alone. The combination of a DOCSIS 3.1 rollout with prepped networks and trained engineers translates into better service delivery and faster time to market. And in the areas cited above and other current and future activities, the parallel approaches by CableLabs and SCTE will result in solutions that enable operators to bring together the best possible technologies and the greatest possible amount of engineering and operations expertise.

Like the best generals, we need to be prepared for each new battle on new fronts. The migration of IP services, the emergence of new revenue-generating products and the need to ensure the best-possible utilization of available energy sources will be the fruits of a new generation of cable technology that will be implemented by a new generation of engineering professionals.

Email: mdzuban@scte.org

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