Futurist Ray Kurzweil is reported to have coined the phrase “the second half of the chessboard” to illustrate the impact of exponential growth. The cable industry and the semiconductor industry have both experienced exponential growth. Let’s use this interesting idea to take a closer look at exponential growth.
If you’ve been around awhile, or are of “a certain age,” you may recall a few early attempts to couple cable’s distribution infrastructure with text and graphical information. You know: stuff you might label today as “content.” Starting in the early 1980s, a parade of initiatives flew across cable’s radar, launched by some big names (then) in media and publishing, plus a few homespun start-ups.
Cable has made incredible progress in network and service reliability/availability. From vast improvements of the early days to the introduction of lifeline services like voice, we have reduced customer reported troubles from 40 percent to under 3 percent in an amazingly short time. Network troubles have followed a similar trajectory.
You’ve certainly read about that notorious decision by the Librarian of Congress that made it illegal for a cell phone owner to “unlock” a cell phone so that it can be used with a different carrier. But that same decision, which came out last October, contains other elements, including some that apply more directly to our business.
The lucrative small- to mid-size business (SMB) services market is growing organically to include larger enterprises and is now in phase two as cable operators and related service providers accelerate the expansion of their business services model to include the enterprise market.
There isn’t a single legal concept that has inspired more heartburn in more facets of content distribution than digital rights management (DRM). Consumers have a pretty good idea what DRM is, and plenty vociferously despise it with the same loathing they have for banks, airlines and their communications service providers.
For today’s well-equipped TV watcher, pausing a program on the living room TV set and resuming it on the portable tablet is merely a matter of pressing buttons or swiping screens. A click here, a tap there, and in seconds the program hops from one screen to the next, uninterrupted and ready to resume. Or so it appears.
Network-based DVR services have been waiting in the wings for years now, but their big debut seems to be only a matter of time now that content rights issues are thawing out and the network architectures are taking shape. nDVR will be, when paired with a content delivery network or cloud, one of the legs that TV Everywhere services stand on once it’s enabled.
Pasternack Enterprises has a new line of 50-watt medium- power attenuators; Multicom has introduced a clear QAM SD/HD video distribution solution that eliminates the need for a set-top box; Fujitsu has announced the a Packet Optical Networking Platform (Packet ONP) for optical transport network (OTN) switching.
Once upon a time, Time Warner was a giant media company with both a programming arm and a distribution arm. Investors demanded Time Warner Cable be spun off. After buying the rest of NBC Universal, Comcast now looks pretty similar to 2008 Time Warner.
The big picture on FCC incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum, includes two key elements: 1) The transfer of at least 120 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband use; and 2) The generation of enough revenues to pay broadcaster relocation costs, the funding of a national broadband public safety network, as well as support for deficit reduction.
In some quarters, wealth has received a bad name. A little thought reveals that our industry and our careers strongly depend on there being “rich people.” Start-up endeavors need investors, people with at least a little excess money they can put at risk in hopes of making a return.
Besides the capacity and robustness improvement, there’s something else about DOCSIS 3.1 and its use of OFDM) that excites me: the network intelligence it enables. We already use DOCSIS devices as network health probes, but OFDM will essentially turn our equipment into multifunction test generators that can be used to measure most of the key RF performance parameters.
On Dec. 13, 1975, RCA gave the cable industry a pre-Christmas gift to remember when the first of RCA’s Satcom series of geostationary satellites was launched by NASA from a Delta 3000 rocket. That satellite and its progeny have endured for decades as an essential conduit for cable programming.
As long as there are services, there will be service thieves. Preventing this theft may take some configuration changes in software, firmware upgrades and the removal of problematic cable modems, as well as adjustments to CMTS settings. Combating service theft has been a series of moves and countermoves, not unlike a game of chess.