Cable Tech

Cable-Tec Expo 2011: What's Hot

Engineers and cable execs from around the globe are heading to Atlanta this week for the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo, the sector's biggest tech conference of the year. Light Reading Cable will be there, too, to catch what's new and hot in the world of cable technology.

The show will cover all aspects of the cable world, but here's a preview of what we'll be keeping special tabs on when we're not checking in with vendors on the floor, catching up with execs for Light Reading TV interviews, or enjoying what Atlanta has in store after-hours. And we encourage you to drop by our Cable-Tec Expo micro-site early and often to catch all the action, including product announcements, session coverage, interviews, photos, and other breaking news from the confab.

Cable vision
The opening session on Tuesday with Cox Communications Inc. President Pat Esser and Motorola Mobility LLC Chairman and CEO Sanjay Jha promises to offer a discussion on the "long-term approaches that will help operators meet the needs of residential and business consumers over the next five years or more." Undoubtedly that discussion will steer toward cable's increased interest in wireless, considering that Cox offers its own services on the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) network and Moto is an important supplier of handsets and other mobile devices. Nothing's been confirmed, but this could give Moto an opening to talk about a new six-inch Android tablet reportedly codenamed Corvair that can perform a few cable tricks and serve as a fancy remote control for Moto-made cable boxes.

Cable tech talk
That will be followed by a high-powered panel of CTOs and top cable engineering execs that's certain to dive into topics such as the over-the-top threat, TV Everywhere, and MSO wireless initiatives. Participating in that session are: Bright House Networks President Nomi Bergman; Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) EVP, Corporate Engineering and Technology, Jim Blackley; and three EVP and CTOs -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s Tony Werner, Cox's Kevin Hart and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s Mike LaJoie.

What's next for CCAP?
It's probably still too early to see any bona fide Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) products on the show floor, but it's thought that edge QAM and cable modem termination system (CMTS) suppliers will show off denser versions of products (or cards and blades, at least) that can help cable operators boost capacity and get them moving toward a next-gen, all-IP infrastructure.

We'll have more on this soon, but we'll also hear about some work underway that takes the place of the original "modular" implementation of CCAP that will allow edge QAM vendors to participate in the product pipeline rather than leaving the market solely to CMTS vendors that have fully integrated CCAPs on their roadmaps.

Clouding up the UI
The days of cumbersome set-top-resident interactive program guides (IPGs) aren't over yet, but cable's moves toward cloud-based remote user interface (RUI) technologies will at least get the industry headed away from those clunky IPGs. While there's already several RUI projects and products developed (or in the works) from the likes of Comcast (via its Xcalibur project), SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) (Nitro) and Rovi Corp. (TotalGuide), we expect to see some new players emerge with hosted UIs that let operators make upgrades and changes almost on the fly and establish the kind of feel and function that can be extended to PCs, tablets and other IP-connected devices.

Video in the cloud
The promise of TV Everywhere services for smartphones, PCs and tablets has put cable on a path to support adaptive bit rate (ABR), an encoding technique that constantly changes the resolution of a video stream depending on how much bandwidth is available on the access network. Expect the show floor to be dominated by new breeds of video encoding and transcoding software and hardware that promise to help cable operators implement their TV Everywhere strategies.

Of special interest will be a content delivery network (CDN) panel that will feature Comcast Senior Fellow Weidong Mao, who will offer a white paper presentation on the "interconnection" of CDNs. Canoe Ventures LLC for the CDN, anyone?

Capacity management
Before the show officially gets rolling on Tuesday, we'll be dropping by Monday's Capacity Management Symposium. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s John Chapman will set the tone by exploring a wide range of technology drivers, including the explosion of Internet video, that cable MSOs will need to consider as they design their packet-based networks.

Spotlight on next-gen video
Many of these discrete items will be fused at this year's show Technology Spotlight, which will concentrate on cable's next-generation video architecture. It'll offer a one-stop view of network and operations elements that tie into cable's IP video migration and related items such as video quality monitoring.

And more
For some additional pre-show perspective from Suddenlink Communications SVP and CTO and show Program Committee Chairman Terry Cordova, and SCTE President and CEO Mark Dzuban, please check out:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 4:49:05 PM
re: Cable-Tec Expo 2011: What's Hot

I'm fascinated by the fact that Sanjay Jha is speaking at this year's SCTE event. The cable business has traditionally played second fiddle to the mobile handset biz within the company, and the fact that the CEO is taking time to come down to Atlanta suggests that Motorola is placing a lot more importance on it now. Add in the Google acquisition and the potential integrations there, and you've got an interesting story. Can't wait to see what comes out of this week.

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:49:05 PM
re: Cable-Tec Expo 2011: What's Hot

What a difference a year makes. Many of these topics that you mentioned -- CDNs, CCAP, IP video, adaptive bit rate -- have been talked about at recent SCTE conferences, but now they are front and center. It just goes to show how much cable's focus is turning toward IP delivery requirements. I'll be interested to hear what's going on with MSOs' CDN backbones.   

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:49:04 PM
re: Cable-Tec Expo 2011: What's Hot

Yes, the Google-Moto deal certainly adds some intrigue to this year's SCTE, especially since Google reportedly wasn't keen on acquiring Moto's cable business in the first place. It's hard to figure what's going to happen there, so hopefully we'll get some insights -- or at least some juicy rumors!

Just to get the ball rolling: do you think Jha will be there primarily to prop up Moto's cable business, or to lay the groundwork for a potential spinoff once the Goggle deal is done?? 

Joly MacFie 12/5/2012 | 4:49:03 PM
re: Cable-Tec Expo 2011: What's Hot


> a content delivery network (CDN) panel that will feature Comcast Senior Fellow Weidong Mao, who will offer a white paper presentation on the "interconnection" of CDNs.


This should be interesting, given the Comcast/Level 3 brouhaha a year ago. Looking forward to your report!

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