CED announced the winners of our Fourth Annual Pacesetter Awards last night at a reception at Cable-Tec Expo. The Pacesetters recognize individuals at cable and other broadband service providers who have taken leading positions or innovative first steps with advanced services, applications and technologies.

The 2007 Pacesetters are being awarded in five categories: Business Services, Telephony: Commercial SIP/VoIP, Digital Video, On-Demand Advertising and Broadband Teamwork.

The recipient of the Pacesetter Award for Business Services is Ed Francois of Cox Business Services, Cox New Orleans. Francois is being recognized for the extraordinary efforts he and his colleagues have made in providing business services in a city that is still reeling from Hurricane Katrina nearly two years after it hit.

When Katrina hit, most other communications systems failed entirely, and were not restored for months. In many areas, cable service either never went out or was quickly resumed. In an area where the vast majority of businesses are small or medium-sized, Francois and his team literally went door to door in business districts selling T1 services.

The reputation for reliability Cox Business Services established in the aftermath of the disaster has helped the company succeed not only with local businesses, but also with local and state government offices.

The Pacesetter Business Services Award is sponsored by Vyyo.

There are two winners of the Pacesetter Award for Telephony-Commercial SIP/VoIP. Scott Weber, senior vice president Engineering & Network Management at Cablevision Systems Corp., and his colleague Robert Covell, senior vice president, Broadband Internet Services and Application Development have been instrumental in devising and implementing Cablevision's innovative solution for the delivery of commercial VoIP service.

Cablevision was among the first cable VoIP providers, and typically executed well. The company has attracted over 1.3 million voice customers out of 4.5 million homes passed, for a 28 percent penetration rate. Cablevision credits VoIP with accelerating the adoption of its video and data services.

The Pacesetter Award for Telephony-Commercial SIP/VoIP is sponsored by Camiant.

The 2007 Pacesetter Award for Digital Video was bestowed on Kristin Gulasy, VP of Digital Services, also from Cablevision. Gulasy rose through the ranks to become one of the key people helping to launch both the Sony and Scientific Atlanta Digital Systems, in charge of Cablevision's set-top box operations.

She is credited with directing the launch of the SA digital system past 1.1M homes in only about 60 days and overseeing the astonishing growth of Cablevision's digital penetration rates from about 6 percent five years ago to over 80 percent today.

The Pacesetter Award for Digital Video is sponsored by Scientific Atlanta A Cisco Company

Patrick Knorr, resident, Sunflower Broadband is the winner of this year's Pacesetter Award for On-Demand Advertising.

Knorr and Sunflower are no strangers to trailblazing; the operator "on the small end of mid-sized," was also among the first to deploy pre-DOCSIS and DOCSIS cable modems back in 1998.

Under Knorr's leadership, Sunflower again broke new ground in cable advertising in 2006 with the debut of its dynamic VOD advertising business.

Lacking national programmers willing to take advantage of the system, Sunflower is nonetheless prospering by selling targeted ads to enthusiastic local advertisers during the 15 or so hours per week of local advertising that Sunflower runs. Inventory has already been sold out through 2008 in categories of local VOD programming including news and special interests, including cooking.

Ad avails in all VOD programs are sold out 60-90 days in advance of run time. Overall, Sunflower has grown its ad client base by 10 percent as a result of its new capabilities.

Knorr says the company is able to charge about 10 times the rate of regular ads, and targeted advertising is already representing 5 percent of all ad revenues.

The Pacesetter Award for On-Demand Advertising is sponsored by SeaChange International.

The operations group - both engineers and marketers - led by Marwan Fawaz, CTO at Charter Communications, collected the 2007 Pacesetter Award for Broadband Teamwork.

The team includes Matt Bell, Doug Ike, Bob Blackburn, John Roy, Kelly Ross, Keith Hayes, James Pierce, Cathy Fogler, and Maria Rothschild - some originally from Charter, some that accompanied Fawaz from his previous job at Adelphia.

The team works as such, Fawaz said, for a number of reasons. The goals are corporate, not departmental. Everyone talks to each other, and consults with each other. The contribution of ideas is encouraged. Once a decision is made, everyone jumps on board. And everyone just happens to like each other.

The Pacesetter Award for Broadband Teamwork is sponsored by Scientific Atlanta, A Cisco Company.