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@ Cable-Tec Expo: Cablevision’s user interface marches into STBs

Wed, 10/17/2012 - 4:07pm
Mike Robuck

Women in Technology PanelAfter launching its Onyx user interface on computers and mobile devices earlier this year, Cablevision started deploying the advanced interactive program guide on set-top boxes a few weeks ago, and so far, the early returns are good.

Cablevision’s Yvette Kanouff, executive vice president of engineering and technology, said having a common user experience across the various viewing platforms was important for the cable operator. Kanouff, speaking on the “Women in Technology Panel,” said the multi-platform approach for Onyx has included iPhones, Macs, PCs and the Kindle Fire.

“The feedback has been great about the ease of use and flexibility,” Kanouff said. “It’s in the final stages of launching on set-top boxes, and it’s everything we want to see in giving users flexibility.”

Moderator Leslie Ellis asked Kanouff if Onyx included HTML5, but Kanouff said that while Cablevision has used HTML5 on Samsung and LG Electronics TVs, it hasn’t included it in the new user interface just yet.

Charlotte Field, senior vice president of infrastructure and operations at Comcast Cable, said her company’s new guides have also been well-received, but the cable industry needs to have a much quicker development cycle.

“We can’t wait two years for a guide change,” she said. “We’re doing that not because of the traditional competition, but because we want to be like the next Apple. We have to make sure our customers get content anywhere on any device.”

Time Warner Cable executive vice president Carol Hevey said that while over-the-top content has increased capital outlays for cable modem termination systems and QAMs, it has also created opportunities for deeper relationships, and capital investments need to be made in technologies that maximize capital returns.

While DOCSIS 3.1 is set to make its official debut during a panel tomorrow, the “Women in Technology Panel” spoke about it briefly. Bright House Networks President Nomi Bergman said her company is excited about the flexibility that DOCSIS 3.1 gives cable operators with its new modulation schemes and using new areas of the spectrum.

“One of the things that I found interesting is what is the operational transition to 3.1? How will DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 coexist?” Field asked. “I think it’s a great day for cable and the possibilities of what we can do for our plant. I think it’s going to be very exciting.”

The eventual move to DOCSIS 3.1 and IP-based services also means that more of the traditional headend functions will be moving to the cloud, while unicast streams are moved to the edge, Field said.

Kanouff said Cablevision’s headend already looks different when compared to a traditional headend because of its network DVR solution.

“It’s not headend vs. cloud; it’s about moving into a flexible environment,” Kanouff said.

Cablevision’s reliance on nDVR also means that MoCA plays less of a role in the homes that it serves. Other panelists said they could see a point where Wi-Fi overshadows MoCA in home network environments, but Cablevision has already gotten behind Wi-Fi and cloud-based services, with more of the latter to come next year, according to Kanouff.

“Some of the things that MoCA will give you we’re looking at leapfrogging with what Wi-Fi will give us,” Kanouff said. “We’re particularly interested in 802.11ac and what that can do for our customers’ homes. I think DLNA is great, and there are a lot of things that DLNA can give us.”

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