Yesterday’s CTO panel discussed several deadlines, including the July deadline for separable security via CableCards in set-top boxes and the Feb. 17, 2009, digital TV transition. 7/’07 Moderator Yvette Gordon-Kanouff of Seachange asked the panel right out of the gate whether they were ready for the separable security deadline, and the resounding answer from the CTO panelists was "yes."

"We filed for a waiver, so we’re fairly confident we’re ready," joked Terry Cordova, Suddenlink‘s senior vice president and CTO.

"And now you’re waiting by the fax machine," Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie responded.

All kidding aside, Cordova said SuddenLink is ready.

"We’ve done our part on cycling the legacy converters through out our systems," Cordova said. "We’ve also upgraded all of the DNCS and DAC addressable controls to be auto-repairing. We’ve been through lot of testing with multiple converter manufacturers, and I’m happy to say we’ve had no issues. All in all, we’re well prepared."

LaJoie said Time Warner Cable has been rolling out CableCard-enabled set-top boxes into the field from both Motorola and Scientific Atlanta.

"We’re putting CableCards in the field right now," LaJoie said. "We’ve been rolling them out for about a week now, and we’re doing just fine."

Time Warner Cable is also deploying Samsung set-top boxes based on the Scientific Atlanta platform. The Samsung boxes are running the OCAP stack and Time Warner Cable’s OpenCable digital Navigator with all of its applications.

"VOD is working great," LaJoie said. "Actually, the VOD sessions start faster on the OpenCable platform than they do on the legacy platform. It’s smoking, and the customers love it. The install is working. It took about a year and half of prep. It takes a long time to be an overnight success."

John Schanz, Comcast‘s executive vice president, national engineering and technical operations, said his company was also "in very good shape" with both Motorola and Scientific Atlanta boxes slated for customers’ homes this month.

"As a newcomer to the industry, I found it amazing how complicated this was and how many touch points there were," Schanz said. February ’09 As for the February 2009 deadline, LaJoie said the industry needs to be working with broadcasters in each market on dual-carry and must-carry plans. In regards to the number of HD channels that will be carried, LaJoie said switched digital video (SDV) was the biggest enabler.

BigBand CTO, founder and SDV pioneer Ran Oz said switched digital is now in 7 million homes and that all of the major MSOs are either using SDV or trialing it.

Oz said the tool kit for increasing bandwidth also includes edge QAMs to share bandwidth between services and modular cable modem termination systems (M-CMTSs). Schanz added advanced video compression, VBR on VOD and advanced multiplexing to the toolbox for the DTV transition.

LaJoie also took issue with the supposed lack of bandwidth for cable operators. LaJoie said the solutions for expanding bandwidth are already available, but it doesn’t make sense until the economic case can be made for spending the money on technologies such as DOCSIS 3.0. – Mike Robuck

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