Cable's New Power Play
Technically Speaking With SCTE Technically Speaking With SCTE 3/4/2013
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.
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