SCTE Notebook

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NCTA pres/CEO Michael Powell said it’s not too late for cable operators to push usage-based billing to the masses despite warnings from MoffettNathanson‘s Craig Moffett and others that it would be difficult to implement after years of all-you-can-eat pricing. "I disagree with Craig on that," he said, noting however that cable faces "urgency" in adopting a more fair system. "There are always people who are paying more than they want to pay for a level of capacity that they don’t need," he said. "Twenty percent of the users are consuming eighty percent of the capacity." He said usage-based pricing would be "extraordinarily beneficial to consumers" if implemented correctly—although he acknowledged the challenge of convincing some policymakers of that. He also said metering would force the Googles of the world to write better software and not depend solely on an endless bandwidth future. "We have to make sure everyone has an incentive to design and engineer in the most efficient ways possible," he said. — Brian Allen, chief security officer at Time Warner Cable, gave an interesting luncheon talk to SCTE attendees about several lessons learned from coping with Hurricane Sandy last year as it devastated NYC and surrounding areas up and down the East Coast. Among them was the importance of real-time flexibility, noting that emergency preparedness plans must account for unforeseen circumstances. "That was a major turn in our thinking with the planning," he said. For example, when it came to fuel for TWC trucks and generators, "our strategy was overrun pretty quickly with Sandy" as TWC’s 6 regional fueling stations almost immediately proved inadequate, forcing TWC brass to call in fuel trucks from FL. He also told ops not to expect timely info from govt agencies like FEMA. "Relying on the government for fuel is not the best option," he said. "We need a plan ourselves. We need to be self-reliant." Another frustration was dealing with the power company, which couldn’t necessarily provide timely outage info that TWC needed to manage repairs. He noted that telecom companies have much stronger historical ties with power companies—and that cable needs to level that playing field. But he said building those relationships "has to be done pre-crisis" because it’s too chaotic to do so amid an emergency. — Comcast wants to demonstrate that its fiber network can keep up with the increasing bandwidth demands. The MSO and network vendor Ciena completed a live field trial of a 1Terabit/sec optical transmission, featuring the ability to increase the traffic carrying capacity by 2.5 times over the current level, the companies announced at Expo. They claimed the trial is the 1st of its kind in which live data traffic was carried over a 1 Tb/s 16 QAM super-channel on an existing, commercial network.

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