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SCTE hires cable polymath as CTO

Tue, 07/20/2010 - 8:55am
Brian Santo

Daniel HowardThe Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers has hired Daniel Howard as its first chief technology officer. Howard has an entrepreneurial pedigree, having co-founded Digital Furnace. His technical background also includes experience with basic physics, RF, DOCSIS, digital video and, importantly for the SCTE, IP networking.

The professional organization is going through a transformation, encouraged in large part by its corporate patrons, the CTOs of the largest MSOs. The CTOs see the NCTA, CableLabs and the SCTE as the supports of a three-legged stool, one focusing on policy and politics, the next on basic research and the third on applied science.

And one area of technology that the MSOs feel they require more support is on their transition to IP networking, and they're looking specifically to the SCTE for help on that subject. All of the MSOs are familiar with IP, but what they lack is a complete understanding of how an HFC network transitioning to IP will fit with the global IP network.

SCTE CEO Mark Dzuban has been saying explicitly for months that the organization is looking for a CTO with a good grounding in IP networking, and that's what he landed in Howard.

"HFC is now only part of the network," Dzuban said. "We needed someone who could be a peer to the CTOs, who could argue the merits of the technology, figure out where things need to go."

Howard said he expects to help bridge the gap in knowledge about end-to-end IP networking. Interfacing with the global IP network will also require standards, and that's right in the SCTE's wheelhouse, he noted.

"I may have gotten here just in time," he quipped.

Howard will also be instrumental in developing the SCTE's new five-year plan that will look at how to help the industry scale IMS, IPTV, HD, 3-D, the ongoing transition from analog to digital, network management, workforce management and more.

Howard co-founded Digital Furnace, which developed communication algorithms and software for broadband networks. Broadcom purchased the company in 2000. Digital Furnace's Propane software enabled Broadcom to triple the upstream bandwidth capacity of its DOCSIS cable modem chipsets. Howard remained there for three more years as technical director of the operation.

He was president and CEO of Quadrock Communications, a start-up that specialized in interactive TV. He was a systems architect for Motorola from 2007 to 2009, and since then he has served as CTO of VQLink, which is involved in video quality measurement and monitoring.

He co-authored the DOCSIS 1.1 and 2.0 specifications and holds several patents related to DOCSIS and iTV technologies.

"In many ways, Daniel is the 'Edison' of digital cable technology," said Dan Pike, CTO of GCI Cable and a member of the selection committee. "He's equally at home in the boardroom or the bucket truck, has a real grasp of the issues that are important to the industry, and takes a 'roll-up-the-sleeves' approach to creating solutions. Ultimately, Daniel's efforts have led to many of the digital technology advancements we take for granted today."

"Daniel Howard's diverse background and experience will accelerate the SCTE's ability to drive new programs for the benefit of the entire industry," said Tony Werner, executive vice president and CTO of Comcast. "We believe he'll bring fresh perspectives that will enhance the SCTE's continued efforts to provide leadership as the IP evolution continues."

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