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New CableLabs President and CEO Phil McKinney explains how the R&D house is working to become a leaner, meaner and much more focused innovation machine

CableLabs CEO Preaches Speed & Innovation

Jeff Baumgartner
News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/22/2013
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DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen IP Strategies: Entering the Zettabyte Era -- More speed, more focus and the creation of an "innovation pipeline" out of Silicon Valley are among the top priorities for CableLabs President and CEO Phil McKinney, the ex-Hewlett-Packard Co. CTO who took the helm of cable's Louisville, Colo.-based R&D house last June. (See Ex-HP CTO Named CableLabs CTO.) "Ideas without execution is a hobby," McKinney said here during his keynote remarks Tuesday, noting that cable must learn to innovate faster as it continues to face strong competition in all service areas. "We need to pick that pace up" so ideas can more rapidly morph from "scratches on a piece of paper" to something "that can get deployed on the network and have an impact." He admitted that a faster pace will inject more risks into the process but believes that the resulting rewards will be worth it. "Cable has to continue to feed and support people who are willing to take those risks," he said. To help stoke innovation, the organization is also creating an "innovation team" to be based in Colorado and at a new Silicon Valley facility that will open in August and consolidate the current CableLabs office in San Francisco. The Silicon Valley group, which will also engage with innovators and entrepreneurs in the region, will eventually house two to three dozen people. (See CableLabs Sets Its Sights on Silicon Valley.) The group will focus on high-risk, bleeding edge projects. McKinney isn't identifying what the team is working on, but, "we're looking for a very high failure rates in those programs," he said. CableLabs is also looking to pick up the pace of its longer-range R&D projects, such as Docsis 3.1, which is targeting downstream speeds up to 10Gbit/s. It took four-and-a-half years, on average, for each earlier version of Docsis to get from specifications to revenue generation. McKinney thinks CableLabs can shave that down by 35 percent to 40 percent. (See Docsis 3.1 Stays on a Fast Track.) McKinney also wants CableLabs to narrow its focus and be more judicious about expending resources. For example, the organization cut down the number of projects underway to 28 last November from 69 when McKinney joined. And there's more. In this LRTV interview, McKinney outlines his top priorities, updates us on Docsis 3.1 and explains how CableLabs is helping the industry prepare for 4K/UltraHD video:

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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