Light Reading
Mark Coblitz says the cable sector's growth is at risk if it fails to create an energy plan that covers future bandwidth demands and cloud services

Comcast's Strategy Chief Calls a Power Play

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/15/2012
50%
50%

PHILADELPHIA -- It's high time the cable industry started watching its wattage, insists a top Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) executive.

Mark Coblitz, Comcast's SVP of strategic planning, is calling on the cable industry to forge a new long-term energy management strategy as MSOs continue with their IP video migrations and shift more services and apps into the cloud, including network DVRs.

Speaking here at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) 's Smart Energy Management Initiative (SEMI) Forum, Coblitz urged MSOs and suppliers to factor energy requirements at the "design phase," warning that the cable sector's ability to grow and manage its costs is at risk, because current energy policies and today's broadband networks are ill-equipped to handle all of the power-sucking services that lie ahead. (See SCTE Drives Green 'SEMI'.)

While not a concern that must be fixed overnight, Coblitz said that it must be addressed and solved within the next five to ten years. "We will be faced with the reality that our ability to grow will be constrained by the quantity and timing of obtaining electrical power," he said.

Curbing the appetite of energy-eaters
Coblitz identified several trends that will affect cable's ability to source the power it needs, including higher demands for bandwidth, network DVRs and the emergence of wireless broadband and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies.

While the legally approved way to do a network DVR -- such as Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s "remote-storage" DVR, or RS-DVR -- requires that the MSO store an individual copy of each customer's recording request, it's not nearly as energy-efficient as an approach that would let multiple subscribers stream from the same copy. In fact, the storage duplication for an RS-DVR is rather wasteful from an energy standpoint. (See Inside Cablevision's 'RS-DVR' and Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx .)

According to Coblitz's estimation, if 30 million set-tops or connected devices had access to a network DVR and the current, legally approved method remained the only option, it would require about 300 megawatts of power. If an MSO was allowed to install a more sharable system that supported 2 million different titles, energy demand plummets to 5 megawatts. [Ed. note: As a point of reference, Coblitz noted that a nuclear plant generates 1000 megawatts.]

And that's just one example. Comcast's annual Internet usage has surged at least 40 percent per year during the past decade, a trend that required the MSO to install more than 3,000 physical servers in its dozen-plus data centers last year.

Coblitz is also wary of the emergence of M2M technologies, noting that developers typically don't place an emphasis on network efficiency. He likewise said that the increasing use of outdoor Wi-Fi units and 4G cellular services will place more stress on local wireline networks that backhaul the traffic.

Additionally, the energy demands of decoding and transcoding will also rise as MSOs support more unicast IP video traffic and, later, begin to look at bandwidth-chowing, higher-resolution video formats such as 8K, which is about 16 times more detailed than 1080p.

Forging a new energy plan
Coblitz didn't propose a new soup-to-nuts plan on Thursday, but said it's imperative for the cable industry to take a "long view about energy" and to start the process of creating a strategy.

In the meantime, he did suggest that MSOs, vendors, and industry organizations begin to factor in new energy requirements during the "design phase" of new products rather than viewing them as some tangential thing to react to when it later becomes a problem.

Consider the new plan officially underway. And it serves as fair warning for cable vendors: If you intend to do business with Comcast down the road, you'd best tune in, don your Energy Domes, and start to think about how your gear can survive on less power.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:39:20 PM
re: Comcast's Strategy Chief Calls a Power Play


Should add here that cable isn't starting from scratch the vision Coblitz presented. SCTE CEO Mark Dzuban noted that the Society has several standards underway to help address cable's energy needs or optimize its energy programs (17 projects total).


 On the access network, CCAP also looks to save space and power by combining CMTS and edge QAM capacity in a much denser device, but any significant deployments of that are likely at least a year away.


 Also, CableLabs just kicked off an effort last year dedicated to improving energy efficiency in set-top boxes and other CPEs and an Energy Lab to support that initiative. So cable's definitely looking for some serious collaboration inside and out of the industry to make this happen.


But cable wants to do more before it's a problem it can't react to. "This is a critical to us and an issue that we need to head off," Coblitz added in a follow up panel going on here. JB




AESerm
50%
50%
AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:39:19 PM
re: Comcast's Strategy Chief Calls a Power Play


Maybe the next big court case involving RS-DVR will include an environmental impact statement.

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:39:07 PM
re: Comcast's Strategy Chief Calls a Power Play


You might have a point there... remove those legal requirements and save a boatload of energy. It's gotta get someone's attn. the  next time someone tries to challenge or change the current allowable approach.


In the media scrum after the keynote I asked Mark if the energy impact of an  RS-DVR would make it a non-starter, and he said absolutely not (Cablevision, after all, is doing it), since moving that storage into the cloud still saves more energy than it would by having it on individual devices. He stressed that his point is that moving storage into the cloud via an rs-dvr just shifts some of that  energy load to Comcast and off of the customer.  He made a good point: no one has really talked about the power implications of the network DVR... we've been so focused on the legal issues of it. JB

Flash Poll
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (1) comment


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Telefonica Spain Considers Antenna Selection for LTE Network Deployment

7|4|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Tony Conlan, Global CTO of RAN, Telefonica, shares his opinion on antennas in LTE network deployment: Tower space is the premier requirement on antennas; reliability is important to reduce OPEX; and EasyRET solution will be helpful for antenna maintenance.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
dtac Thailand: Multi-band Antenna & Capacity Solution for a Better MBB Experience

7|3|14   |   3:45   |   (0) comments


With the development of LTE, tower space and load are limited for new antenna, but users' capacity requirements are growing fast. To provide a better MBB experience, Panya Vechbanyongratana from dtac Thailand shared his experiences and antenna requirements.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Allot's latest MobileTrends Charging Report shows that value-based pricing plans are up from 35% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Microsoft to Axe 12,500 Ex-Nokia Employees
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/17/2014
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed