Tracking technology lifecycles, from idea to deployment and beyond, is major theme for anyone observing or analyzing this industry.
Several times at Paul Kagan’s "QAM Before the Storm" event, staged prior to this year’s SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies in Los Angeles, for instance, did Kagan himself ask this question about various technologies: "Where is it on the timeline?"
One of the best answers came from Cisco Systems Advanced Video Advertising Architect Ben Hollin. After first saying that targeted advertising would start to come together over the next 24 months, he made a basic point about timing.
"It’s an S-curve we’re riding," Hollin said, "not a linear, regular clock."
It bears repeating. The path between the light bulb’s first illumination in an engineer’s brain and a product manager’s closing the door on a discontinued line is far from straight. Once launched, an idea and its associated technology, assuming they live, will go through multiple cycles of varying speed and duration.
A few examples of the S-curve at work:

• After a quiet (quietly active?) spell, the policy server is back. In this month’s cover story, it plays a stabilizing role within a growing network.

• A leading high-speed data architect recently gave me an earful about how the Downstream DOCSIS RF Interface (DRFI) was an over-engineered spec that is putting a speed bump in the DOCSIS 3.0 roadmap.

• Downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) technology putters along, but small operators want new set-tops, and DCAS costs appear to be aligning.

• The 802.11n spec may jolt the otherwise dormant home networking sector, if the winner of the innovation showcase (Ruckus Wireless) at the CableLabs Winter Conference is any indication.

• Advanced and targeted advertising may indeed gel over the next two years, but as far as the viability of CableLabs’ "Canoe" initiative is concerned, in this issue’s Bullpen column we’re publishing doubts.        

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Jonathan Tombes is the editor of Communications Technology. Reach him at

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