CableLabs’ board of directors has named Paul Liao as the laboratory’s new president and CEO. Liao, who most recently served as Panasonic North America’s chief technology officer and vice president, is replacing Richard Green, who announced his retirement in September (story here).

Liao was named the new president and CEO after a CableLabs board meeting yesterday in Washington, D.C.

Paul Liao

“From my perspective, I have big shoes to fill,” Liao said this morning to CED. “Dick Green helped found CableLabs, and the labs have done some really remarkable things like DOCSIS, PacketCable and, of course, OpenCable. Those things have been really remarkable achievements that have reshaped the cable industry and given the industry a revenue potential that has been realized. I would like to continue in that vein.”

As far as CableLabs specifications go, Liao is intimately familiar with OpenCable due to Panasonic’s work on tru2way projects with cable operators such as Comcast. While at Panasonic, he led the company’s technology direction and research development in North America.

Prior to joining Panasonic, Liao held a number of positions at Bell Communications Research Inc. (Bellcore) and Bell Laboratories. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University and is a recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Millennium Medal.

“What is unique about Paul, and in my opinion why he is so perfect for this job, is that like Dick, he brings a lot of academic and intellectual credibility from MIT and Columbia University,” said CableLabs Board Chairman Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast. “I just think all the way around I’m thrilled and pleased with the selection. I had the fortune to meet a lot of people (during the selection process), but we were unanimous that once we got to spend time with Paul that we knew we found the right person.

“Dick had a certain gravitas about him, and we wanted someone who was authoritative and not just theoretical. It was a very special moment when Dick said he was thrilled that someone like Paul would take his life’s work to the next level. For someone like Paul to leave a company like Panasonic to help lead our industry is the ultimate affirmation of what we’re doing here.”

Liao’s appointment as president and CEO could also lead to improved relationships with the consumer electronics industry. And in the same vein as Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers President and CEO Mark Dzuban (story here), Liao said he wants to work with other cable industry organizations to make sure all of them are tracking the industry’s needs.

“One of the things I would like to do is also continue the efforts that Dick [Green] started to expand the collaborative efforts of the cable industry with its suppliers and other industries, including, of course, the consumer electronics industry,” Liao said.

In regard to further defining the roles and responsibilities of cable industry organizations, Liao said he briefly spoke with National Cable & Telecommunications Association President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow yesterday, and that he plans on having similar conversations with the SCTE.

“There’s just so much to do,” he said. “I think everyone is looking to work together and to maximize our effectiveness. What I’m hoping to do is help the labs create a technical vision for the industry, drive that industry toward real business results, and assure the industry can play its rightful role in communications and entertainment.”

Green will continue in an advisory role for CableLabs. As for Liao’s start date, that’s still up in the air for now.

"I am working on the schedule for winding down my involvement in some projects at Panasonic, and my starting date will be determined shortly based on that schedule,” he said.

While Liao is well-versed in tru2way, he said he will need to learn more about CableLabs’ other specifications.

“I’m sure I have a lot to learn,” he said. “The good news is that there’s a remarkably talented staff at CableLabs, and I’ll definitely be reliant on that talent.”

Roberts said CableLabs hired a search firm to find Green’s replacement, but there was no great sense of urgency since Green had given the board so much advance notice.

Roberts said the worldwide search reached up to 100 people to see if they might be interested, but Liao’s familiarity with the consumer electronics industry, operational support systems, new technologies and software brought him to the top of the list.

CableLabs was formed by its cable operator members in 1988, and Green served as its only president and CEO until Liao’s appointment. Green’s contract runs through December of this year.

“I’m looking forward to working with Paul [Liao] during this transition period,” Green said. “He brings new vision and expertise to CableLabs and to the industry. We are all looking forward to having him on board.”

Under Green’s leadership, and working with its members, CableLabs has established its DOCSIS program for high-speed Internet access. It also has established common specifications to enable cable operators to deliver digital voice services to consumers. Combined, those two programs have resulted in more than $22 billion in annual revenue for cable operators.

More Broadband Direct 06/10/09:
•  Liao takes helm at CableLabs
•  Broadband policy: Don't let programmers cheat
•  Time Warner Cable picks TVN for VOD platform
•  Sprint tempts cable with femtocells
•  CableLabs hosts 14 vendors at addressable advertising interop
•  Cisco: Plan for explosion of IP video
•  Friday is final curtain for analog TV signals
•  Sliver of population unready for transition
•  Flo TV prepares expansion with DTV transition
•  Broadcom willing to reassess Emulex bid price
•  Letter: CTIA, signatories refute FM chipset mandate
•  Nacchio: Case should have never gone to trial