Gregg Grigaitis is vice president, advanced technology, at Suddenlink Communications. A 20-year veteran of the cable industry, Grigaitis is responsible for the operational support of all Suddenlink video services, as well as the rollout of advanced video technologies.
What would you say are the current trends in VOD technology?
A big trend is standard interfaces, which facilitate flexibility and best-in-class solutions. In our case, that’s SeaChange Axiom Command and Control integrated with Motorola/Broadbus B1 video servers. Additionally, standard interfaces facilitate the convergence of interactive services. In particular, edge QAMs from many vendors can now be deployed in a video on demand/switched digital video shared edge QAM architecture via an edge resource manager.
Have the worlds of advertising and technology reached better levels of mutual understanding over the past year? Do any obstacles remain?
From a traditional cable advertising insertion business perspective, DPI is mainstream and straightforward. With respect to "on-demand advertising," while there has been a lot of work and energy, we still have a long way to go, primarily in the business rules area.
On the encoding front, where do you think the cable industry stands in terms of the MPEG-4 technology life cycle?
Cable is just starting with MPEG-4, and HBO is helping jumpstart the process. This will evolve over many years. Operators will begin rolling out MPEG-4 boxes, more providers will migrate to MPEG-4 delivery, codecs will continue to improve, and our industry will benefit with additional increases in bandwidth generated by MPEG-4. Expect to see HD content as a primary driver.
What kinds of techniques are best suited for smaller operators to deliver HD content?
There are a couple of options. Acquisition costs have continued to come down, so direct acquisition and delivery can make economic sense for small operators. In addition, the HITS offering is a good solution for headends with a small digital footprint. HITS is doing good work around encoding and grooming.
What developments in the switched digital video arena are you tracking?
We are very interested in the protocols behind switched digital and how our current and potential future vendors support them. Suddenlink has a broad geographic distribution of subscribers, so the ability to share SDV command and control investment over a backbone and over multiple DACs or DNCSs will be critical to us economically.
At what points do you see DOCSIS and video technologies converging?
It’s all about convergence and unified networking. Initially, this will start at the edge with the QAM. Protocols are being or have been developed for both to support VOD, broadcast (SDV) and DOCSIS edge QAM sharing. It’s important to Suddenlink that our vendors support these new interfaces.
What areas of digital rights management and conditional access do you expect will have most impact on the industry’s video business over the next several years?
Downloadable conditional access (DCAS) will deliver on the promise of MSO choice for set-tops, be it lower pricing to the MSO via competition, or be it the ability for consumers to purchase the set-tops of their choice at retail. We’d like for it to be here sooner rather than later!