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CableLabs Sets Its Sights on Silicon Valley

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

CableLabs is in the process of relocating its San Francisco facility to the Silicon Valley, which will be home to an expanded "innovation team" and a broader initiative aimed at helping cable strengthen its connection to the region's trove of technology startups.

The decision marks one of the most significant to come out of the cable-operator-backed R&D house since Phil McKinney, the ex-CTO of HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), took the reins of CableLabs in June. (See Ex-HP CTO Named CableLabs CEO.)

CableLabs has already begun its search for a new facility, with the hopes of opening it by the "early summer" of 2013, McKinney said during a briefing held Friday at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto.

McKinney said the bulk of CableLabs's R&D program for projects such as Docsis and PacketCable, will continue to operate out of its headquarters in Louisville, Colo., while the smaller innovation team in Silicon Valley concentrates on more experimental projects and prototypes. And McKinney intends to give the new Silicon Valley team plenty of room to kick some tires and try new things. "It will have a high failure rate," McKinney said.

Under former President and CEO Paul Liao, CableLabs established its San Francisco office in 2011 and is currently serving as the home base for just five of the organization's 175 employees. At the time, some in the industry were critical of the San Francisco venue because it was not located in the heart of Silicon Valley. (See CableLabs Set to Open Bay Area Digs .)

McKinney envisions a larger staff for the new Silicon Valley facility, noting that a number of Colorado-based CableLabs employees have already applied to become part of the new innovation team. CableLabs, he said, will also establish a rotation program so employees can contribute to the organization's R&D and innovations projects.

The coming, larger presence in California comes into play as cable continues its IP migration and adopts a more Web-centric approach to its services and applications platforms. With that in mind, one key objective for the new facility, McKinney said, is to help establish cable "as the innovation platform of choice" for startups in the Silicon Valley.

The facility will also engage with area universities. And some of that work is already underway. CableLabs, for example, has already involved Stanford University in some of the cable industry's software-defined networking (SDN) activities, McKinney said.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:17:58 PM
re: CableLabs Sets Its Sights on Silicon Valley

... but of course they're not.  They're just screwing around pretending that they're open and willing to work with people.

Want to see real innovation?  Open up the protocols, use Ethernet and MoCA and IP packets and documented DRM and provide access to your guide data and DVRs and recordings and VOD and APIs and ...

But they won't of course do any of that.  The whole point of cable labs is to define technology that allows the cable ecosystem to remain under the control of the cable companies and shut out all the electronics companies that could change things.  So there won't be any way in for any of these "startups".  And if it seems like there is, it will be a lie, and they'll be wasting their time.  And most of these guys will figure that out before long.

Not until Over The Top efforts gather more steam, or the FCC gets a backbone, or home gateways really happen or something else breaks this status quo will you see a change here.

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