The common thread: Listen to what the customer wants.

By the time you read this, my year as program chair for SCTE Cable-Tec Expo will be drawing to a close. When the curtain goes up on Expo and a companion event, the Capacity Management Symposium, during the week of Nov. 14, it will mark the culmination of a year of intense discussion among CTOs, other industry thought leaders, the Cable-Tec Expo Program Committee and SCTE officials. Everyone involved in the planning process has dedicated considerable time and energy to identifying issues and solutions that address the near- and long-term needs of our industry.

Terry CordovaWe’re in an era of great change for cable. Consumer demand, rapidly changing hardware and ongoing software innovation have created a need for new services and have opened doors to new business opportunities. This constant evolution was top of mind as we planned Expo programming. We’ve created a highly diverse lineup that addresses not only the issues that engineers and operations professionals face today, but also the system thinking that will be needed for technology adoption and services deployment in the years to come.

From the Capacity Management Symposium Nov. 14 to the Opening Session Nov. 15 through the final workshop later that week, we’ll have something for everyone amidst our jam-packed show floor and 70-plus individual presentations. We’ll be addressing business services, such as fiber and wireless solutions and advanced services; engineering, including multi-screen, IP video and CDN topics; facilities management, critical facilities planning, and operations and smart energy management; plant operations and optical and RF measurements; and technical operations, including customer service, home certification, workforce management and other issues.

Among the key attractions that should be on any engineer’s dance card:

Network capacity – Since the earliest days of cable, operators and vendors collectively have risen to the challenge of adapting networks to deliver new and compelling services that have driven our industry forward. If you’re attending the pre-conference Capacity Management Symposium, you’ll get a soup-to-nuts view of capacity planning from some of the smartest people in our business. They’ll be talking about a comprehensive approach that includes the need to consider: what new services and technologies are on the horizon, how our networks can accommodate them without impacting current service bundles, the need for new levels of proactive monitoring and maintenance, and the importance of keeping the network as flexible as possible to accommodate additional new services in the future. If you can’t make the Capacity Management Symposium, we’ll be addressing network capacity during Expo workshops, as well.

Energy management – Ever since the first Green Pavilion two years ago, I’ve been impressed by SCTE’s leadership role on energy issues. With the evolution of our networks into comprehensive telecommunications facilities, and with the emergence of new services, energy costs and availability are more important than ever. A record number of exhibitors make this year’s Green Pavilion a nexus for expertise, solutions and new standards that can reduce energy costs, increase alternative powering and ensure that operators can minimize the effects of grid power interruptions on their customers.

Next-generation video architectures – Content consumption has changed remarkably in just a few years. Tablets, smartphones, smart TVs and gaming consoles all are changing how we deliver our core product. The Next-Generation Video Architecture Pavilion at Expo will help engineers understand how our networks can evolve into intelligent content delivery networks that can deliver video from any source to any screen. We’ve designed the pavilion to take attendees through the entire distribution process, from content ingest, transcoding and transrating to distribution across networks – and ultimately access to, and entitlement of, content both inside and outside of the home.

One final word: While I’ve highlighted three areas that are important to our industry’s long-term success, there’s one other area that shouldn’t be overlooked. No matter what technological solutions are being deployed, the most important contributor to our success remains our relationship with the customer.

The common thread through all Expo topics is a need to listen to what the customer wants and to provide the technology and the quality of service that will help meet those needs. That’s a customer acquisition and retention strategy that hasn’t changed since the industry’s inception. If we remain mindful of that as we move into new market areas, the changes on the horizon will lead us to continued good fortune in the future.

For now, though, I hope to see you in Atlanta at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo.


In January's column, Michael Adams, head of software strategy for Solution Area TV at Ericsson, will write about IP transformation.