Cable Tech

CableLabs Confirms CEO's 2012 Departure

CableLabs confirmed Friday that President and CEO Dr. Paul Liao won't renew his contract with the Colorado-based R&D house when it expires in December 2012, and that a succession plan and search for a replacement will soon be underway.

Light Reading Cable reported on Liao's imminent exit on Thursday, with multiple sources saying he intends to leave the post within six months. One cable insider familiar with the situation said CableLabs's MSO membership is anxious to find a replacement sooner than that, which could bring forward Liao's exit date. Liao, who informed the CableLabs Executive Committee of his decision last week, will continue in his current role during the transition. (See CableLabs CEO Liao Sets His Exit.)

In the release, CableLabs said Liao decided not to renew his contract "due to personal reasons," and did not elaborate. "I remain fully committed to the team at CableLabs and will support the efforts of the Board in its search for my successor," Liao said, in a statement.

"Although Paul has been with CableLabs for a relatively short period of time his contributions have been great," Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) Chairman and CableLabs Chairman Glenn Britt said in a statement, pointing to work and programs tied to broadband, commercial services and IP-connected consumer electronic devices.

Liao was named CEO of CableLabs in June 2009, succeeding the retiring Dr. Richard Green. One of the key roles of CableLabs is to develop interoperability specifications and to perform certification and qualification testing on cable modems, cable modem terminations systems (CMTSs), set-tops and other cable gear. Docsis, PacketCable, Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) and tru2way are among its higher-profile projects.

Why this matters
Liao's departure will lead to speculation about who will succeed him, and some are already guessing that CableLabs's MSO masters will recruit hard for a cable engineering vet rather than going outside again, as they did with Liao, the former CTO of Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC).

There are also rumblings about the future of CableLabs and what role it can effectively play in an industry that continues to consolidate, with much of its power and influence wielded by major MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and TW Cable. But this comment from Britt seemingly attempts to sweep aside such concerns: "Building on its past accomplishments, CableLabs will continue to play this critical role in our industry's current and future success."

Liao's departure also casts some doubt on the long-term future of a San Francisco office that CableLabs opened recently -- a decision that was approved by the CableLabs board when Liao was hired. Although the new office has ruffled some feathers at CableLabs's Colorado headquarters, the CableLabs board is believed to remain enthusiastic about the idea.

For more

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:51:13 PM
re: CableLabs Confirms CEO's 2012 Departure

But complaining about CableLabs is just part of being in the industry! Let's count some of the ways: membership dues, 2nd class citizenship for vendors, sometimes parochial technical outlook, slow-motion work-group-itis, occasional media stiff-arming, etc. But you are onto something--if you can't live with them, it would be hard to live without them.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:13 PM
re: CableLabs Confirms CEO's 2012 Departure


Well, depends on how you think about it.  The other portion of the wireline industry (telco) has no equivalent.  Places like UNH have taken over some portions of things and of course each carrier has its own labs.  There are also 3rd party test labs who build facilities and charge fees for important standards.

If the cable industry consolidates like Telco has, then it make become OBE.




craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:51:13 PM
re: CableLabs Confirms CEO's 2012 Departure

This will get CableLabs detractors buzzing with speculation about the imminent demise of CableLabs. But I think everyone in cable would pay a hefty price if it disappeared (more than the price of their CableLabs membership).

Life for CableLabs is never easy because it gets shoved around by its big MSO members, who could walk out at any time. But an MSO that takes a "my way or the highway" attitude with its technology preferences runs the risk of getting mired in incompatibility issues, if the rest of the industry heads in a different direction. Technical chaos could ensue.

While it is not a standards setting body and it is not perfect, CableLabs provides a valuable role in sorting through technical issues, creating interoperability guidelines, providing technical forums, and certification. Sometimes it's a thankless job, but it's one that somebody has to do. Agree?           

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:51:12 PM
re: CableLabs Confirms CEO's 2012 Departure

Cable in some respects is starting to look more and more like the telcos, and I think that's something CableLabs should worry about every day, if it isn't already.  How will it fit in down the line? Cable's still a clubby industry, but it's becoming less so. I don't think that MSOs will start going over-the-top on each other with video for quite awhile and unleash Armageddon, but that possibility has to be in everyone's thoughts... 

there was a rumor awhile back that CableLabs, as it mulled its future, was considering partitioning some of its work.. ie. a Comcast group, a TWC group, etc. to work on projects specific to those MSOs while also working on projects with a degree of skunkworks for the greater good for the industry. I haven't been able to corroborate that anything like that was really going on or ever moved beyond the whiteboard, but the people who have mentioned it to me (this was about a year ago) would know better than I would.



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