Light Reading

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        ADD A COMMENT
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

From The Founder
Against the odds, Huawei is growing its telecoms networking equipment business in the US -- that should be ringing some alarm bells for domestic vendors.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Metaswitch's New CEO Martin Lund Discusses His Role

9|2|15   |   11:27   |   (2) comments


Technology industry veteran Martin Lund joins Metaswitch Networks this week as the company's new CEO. In this interview, Lund discusses his new role and the industry's progress with Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders. Lund believes that the industry disruption caused by SDN and NFV is creating opportunities for companies like Metaswitch – network software providers ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Nominum on Leveraging the Power of DNS to Deliver Superior Subscriber Experiences

9|2|15   |   07:13   |   (0) comments


Nominum CEO Gary Messiana talks about the challenges service providers face in competing for a much more sophisticated customer, a customer that has heightened expectations for more personalized and compelling digital experiences. Providers are focusing their efforts on delivering higher value subscriber services, retaining their existing customers and increasing ...
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Jeff Miller, ActiveVideo

8|28|15   |   19:05   |   (0) comments


Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Vodafone: Mobile Money Is About Customer Trust

8|27|15   |   06.36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading spoke with Vodafone's Ian Ravenscroft about the unique responsibilities and opportunities facing operators handling customers' financial transactions over the network.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Palo Alto Networks on Expanding in the Carrier/Service Provider Market

8|26|15   |   07:54   |   (0) comments


Alfred Lee from Palo Alto Networks tells Steve Saunders about their new chassis-based system, the PA-7080, and how it can benefit service providers compared to legacy firewalls.
LRTV Custom TV
Global Services Forum Preview

8|25|15   |   02:36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders talks about Huawei's upcoming Global Services Forum with the help of Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan and Teresa Mastrangelo.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Infoblox on DNS Threat Index

8|19|15   |   04:39   |   (0) comments


Dilip Pillaipakam from Infoblox talks to Steve Saunders about his company's core network services.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Ihab Tarazi, Equinix

8|14|15   |   20:18   |   (1) comment


Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the dramatic changes in the data center, cloud and interconnect markets and discusses the impact of SDN and NFV in the coming years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
The Netformx Ecosystem

8|14|15   |   09:39   |   (1) comment


Ittai Bareket, CEO of Netformx, talks with Steve Saunders about the Netformx Ecosystem, which employs cutting-edge prescriptive analytics to help solution providers maximize profits.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks on Leveraging VNFs

8|12|15   |   07:37   |   (0) comments


Kumar Mehta, founder and CEO of stealth mode startup Versa Networks, talks with Steve Saunders about how providers can best leverage virtualized network functions (VNFs).
LRTV Custom TV
Transforming the Network Through OPNFV

8|5|15   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group; GM Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, on OPNFV Arno and how the industry is coming together to accelerate the deployment of NFV and transform the network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Cisco's cloud and virtualization portfolio can increase business agility and innovation by building a more flexible network architecture.
Hot Topics
T-Mobile CEO Plays Data Traffic Cop
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/31/2015
CEO Chat With Bill Gates
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 8/31/2015
Time to Monetize Cable WiFi
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 8/31/2015
Carolina Town Becomes First US 10-Gig City
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/3/2015
Eurobites: Anite in OSS Tie-Up With Nokia
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 9/4/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Technology industry veteran Martin Lund joins Metaswitch Networks this week as the company's new CEO. In this interview, Lund discusses his new role and the industry's progress with Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders. Lund believes that the industry disruption caused by SDN and NFV is creating opportunities for companies like Metaswitch – network software providers with the agility to embrace new technologies quickly and the ability to deliver on substantial projects for global network operators.
The scene: Last Saturday, lunchtime, the interior of a shi-shi-foo-foo eatery in Manhattan's SoHo district.
Cats with Phones
It's a New Age... Click Here
When smartphones replace stuffed animals.