Cable's New Power Play

Throughout much of cable's history, operators wishing to grow their businesses could count on ample power supplies and availability of energy that was all but guaranteed. All of that has changed as new technologies and increasing customer demands have driven the need for operators to deploy new services. First articulated by Comcast Corp.'s Mark Coblitz at the SCTE SEMI Forum a year ago, the new reality for cable operators is a change in their relationship with energy providers: Operators today can no longer be assured that power will be available when and where it is needed and in sufficient amounts to support the expanded rollout of video streaming, business services, home monitoring, machine-to-machine communication and other services. Recognizing that energy management is not a "green" issue, but rather a business issue, cable increasingly is exploring new ways to ensure that it uses power in the most efficient way possible. A key goal is to ensure that lack of availability is not an impediment to the industry's future success, especially in the face of competition from Web-based rivals that enjoy the benefits of centralized -- not localized -- network architectures. Fortunately for the industry, there are a variety of strategies available to help cable manage its reliance on grid-based power, including:
  • Software frameworks that can enable controller applications to grab measurements and issue commands to devices. These adaptive power applications, such as those being contemplated by the SCTE's planned standard for Adaptive Power Systems Interface Specifications (APSIS), will be able to shuttle service flows to specific paths in response to power disruptions, and to match power consumption to system levels.
  • Comprehensive approaches that include continuous measurement of consumption at the granular or asset level, analysis of data for trends and opportunities to reduce wasted consumption and application of controls to ensure optimized consumption.
  • Advanced network planning that allows the efficient creation and modification of complex scenarios, the ability to incorporate rapid changes in assumptions into analyses, and the ability to communicate results to both technical experts and non-technical management.
  • Smart grid technologies that use intelligence and automation to optimize power supply and demand, improve grid security and reliability, and reduce operating costs.
At SCTE's SEMI Forum 2013 on April 10 in Atlanta, experts from Comcast, Wipro Technologies, Broadband Advisory Services, Quantellia LLC and Cisco Systems Inc. will be discussing these issues as part of a day-long program that will also include outside plant/fleet and critical facilities presentations from thought leaders from throughout and beyond the industry. As cable increases the breadth and power of its service offerings, it will be important that operators have these tools and others at their disposal. It will be by making the most of existing energy resources that cable literally can have the power to drive services that will attract and retain customers and increase revenues in the years ahead. — Derek DiGiacomo, Senior Director, Information Systems and Energy Management Program, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) This is the latest installment of "Technically Speaking with SCTE," a monthly blog of interviews and columns to provide Light Reading Cable readers with timely updates on the SCTE's initiatives and activities.

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