CED has announced the winners of its third-annual Pacesetter Awards, which recognize individuals at cable and other broadband service providers who have taken leading positions or innovative “first steps” with advanced services, applications and technologies.
In 2006, the Pacesetters are being awarded in six categories: Telephony, Digital Video Television Time-Shifting, Business Services, High-Speed Data/IP Convergence, and Broadband Teamwork. All award winners will be formally recognized at a special event Thursday evening at the Colorado Convention Center.
By category, here are the 2006 Pacesetters (Editor’s note: More thorough profiles of all Pacesetter Award winners will be featured in the August issue of CED):
• Category: Telephony (sponsored by Level 3 Communications)
Pacesetter: Reggie Workman, EVP of network management at Cablevision Systems Corp.
Thanks to the work of people like Workman, Cablevision now has in place the baseline network required to turn up new, advanced IP-based services, including a successful VoIP service called Optimum Voice that touts north of 900,000 customers and a service penetration rate exceeding 20 percent in Cablevision’s service area. Cablevision has also been getting high marks for its customer portal, which allows customers to log in to a Web-based system to quickly administer service changes and enhancements.
Workman, who heads up the MSO’s core infrastructure for analog, VoIP, high-speed data, transport and the operator’s CMTS architecture, is also working on a project that looks to distinguish Cablevision from other operators in terms of service reliability – a VoIP architecture that enlists one-for-one softswitch duplication. Workman said he expects to have that project completed by year-end, when Cablevision will have in the neighborhood of 14 softswitches located in six or seven different locations.
• Category: Digital Video (sponsored by Scientific Atlanta)
Pacesetter: Louis Williamson, VP of network architecture and advanced engineering for Time Warner Cable’s Advanced Technology Group
Williamson, who has been recognized previously for modulating video on fiber (he was the Polaris Award winner in 1998), has also been leading the way when it comes to the deployment of switched digital video (SDV) and the testing of technologies that deliver traditional video programming to PCs via high-speed IP connections.
On the latter, he headed up a team that established Time Warner’s “Broadband TV” test in San Diego, which is piping the MSO’s basic tier (about 75 channels) to several thousand customers. In addition to giving Time Warner some valuable data about how IPTV resonates with consumers, the trial also told the world that the telcos aren’t the only guys out there who can wield IPTV technology, thank you very much.
Williamson is also credited for his role in Time Warner’s rollout of SDV, a technology that in the near-term will help to conserve valuable bandwidth, and, down the road, could bring revenues in the door thanks to its ability to support targeted advertising.
• Category: Television Time Shifting (sponsored by Arroyo Video Solutions)
Pacesetter: Tom Rutledge, chief operating officer, Cablevision Systems Corp.
Rutledge is being recognized for his vision for Cablevision’s ambitious (and highly controversial, as it turns out) Remote Storage-Digital Video Recorder (RS-DVR), a service concept and technical approach that enables digital customers to set and playback recordings on network-based servers/hard drives.
Cablevision had earlier plans to begin trials of the RS-DVR in Long Island, but has since held off pending a court decision that originated with a lawsuit filed by several studios and programmers. Using an expedited schedule, the court is expected to resolve the issue this fall, and that decision will certainly play into how other operators decide how to move ahead with network-based DVR services.
“Rutledge’s interpretation that recording on servers is exactly the same as on a hard disk DVR in the home, and therefore permissible by copyright lay, might finally make network PVR a real-life, commercial offering that will benefit cable customers across the nation,” noted one of the individuals who nominated Rutledge as a 2006 Pacesetter.
• Category: Business Services (sponsored by Vyyo Inc.)
Pacesetter: Jason Welz, VP of business services, Cox Business Services, Northern Virginia
Welz, among other things, is being recognized for starting up Cox’s business services division from the ground up, and turning it into a profitable endeavor that is today targeting business, large enterprise and government contracts in the hotbed of Northern Virginia.
Welz notes that the area is tantamount to a business services “goldmine,” as it is home to plenty of government agencies. “It’s similar to being in the real estate business in Manhattan. It’s just a good place to be,” he says.
Welz is also helping to set the pace when it comes to establishing peered, “soft connects” with other cable operators that provide business-class services. Initially, the opportunities will emerge at the micro level, but once operators start to hammer out larger, master interconnect agreements, the entire industry looks to benefit greatly from this longer-term vision and goal.
• Category: High-Speed Data/IP Convergence (sponsored by Camiant Inc.)
Pacesetter: Scott Hightower, VP of voice & data product development, Cox Communications
Hightower is being recognized for helping Cox lead the way in the development and deployment of applications linked to PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM), an architecture that injects QoS into IP-based services.
Cox has been early to the PCMM game by deploying a speed preview application that allows the company’s high-speed customers to try out a higher speed tier for a limited period of time. If that higher tier suits the need of customers, they are then given the option to upgrade automatically.
Initially, Cox market-tested the new PCMM-powered system in the Pensacola, Fla., area, but also plans, following additional tests, to roll it out to other properties. The PCMM-based system will eventually replace a more manual system Cox has been using that requires modems to perform a “soft reboot.”
• Category:Broadband Teamwork (sponsored by Scientific Atlanta)
Pacesetters: Chris Bowick, SVP of engineering & CTO, Cox Communications; and the Cox E.O.N. team
With the E.O.N. (Extendable Optical Network) initiative, Bowick and his team are leveraging a wide range of technologies and concepts with the goal of future-proofing the Cox network. Specific initiatives linked to the project include bandwidth expansion, switched digital video, digital simulcast, boosting high-speed Internet speed and capacity, video-on-demand (including the hi-def variety of VOD), node splitting, and service group reductions. Cox will use some level or a combination of these initiatives in all of its systems.
In addition to Bowick, the nomination also recognized several other E.O.N. team members, including Dick Mueller, Jay Rolls, Sherryl Love, Mark Williams, Bob Hattori, Doug Brooks, Guy McCormick, Darrell Wells, John Hildebrand, Sabrina Calhoun,