Cable’s presence at the TM Forum’s Management World Americas conference in Orlando Dec. 8-10 signaled a growing collaboration between the cable and telecom industries, both domestically and globally.
Complementing a series of roundtable discussions, customer experience summit, IT operational summit and various workshops, was a commonality of purpose, said Christy Coffey, head of the Forum’s cable sector.
“There were MSOs and telecom executives in the roundtables to discuss best practices and new ideas about managing the customer experience, and a wide scope of attendees, including VPs, product managers, engineers and customer care experts,” Coffey said. “It told us we’re not just deeper in cable but with breadth. Cable was very visible at the conference.”
A hot conference topic, she noted, was IPDR (Internet Protocol Detail Record), which many believe is now ready to become the impact player it was predicted to be.
“It will have an impact by simplifying the way we collect statistics and data, and makes it easier to aggregate data, which feeds into bandwidth capacity planning, utilization planning, billing and other functions. So consistent data is stored,” said Jeff Finkelstein, director of network architecture for Cox Communications and a panelist at the conference’s “Managing Services Using IPDR” session.
IPDR’s biggest upside, he added, is the protocol’s ability to reduce capital and operational expenses:
“Small servers can only pull a small number of devices, so if there are millions of devices, lots of servers are needed to manage them, making it very CapEx and OpEx intensive. But IPDR streams the data, so you only need a few servers. It also means fewer machines to manage and less infrastructure in place. We need an optimum way of collecting and using data, and IPDR allows a more granular look at data you can trust.”
Cablelabs has adopted IPDR/SP as a mandatory part of DOCSIS and continues to develop the IPDR specifications.
Cable’s growing global reach, particularly in the enterprise sector, was front and center at the keynote session “Where Does Cable Go Next?”
“The nature of cable has been focused on households, and wireless focused on handhelds. Now, we are bringing the two together. That’s the road we’re heading down,” said Tom Vari, CIO and SVP for application delivery at Rogers Communications.
In September, Rogers Communications announced plans to integrate its cable and wireless division.
Whatever the platform or endpoint, one point remains constant: “Customer retention is the key,” Vari said. “It’s much less expensive than adding new customers.”
It also requires a new set of skills and tools, especially for service providers such as Net Servicos of Brazil. “As the industry matures, there is huge opportunity. But it requires a different set of skills and tools and living up to your promises. And, the whole technology part plays a big role. There are lots of new services, so configurations in the home are changing,” said keynote speaker Rodrigo Duclos, CTO of Net Servicos.
The future of TM Forum’s cable sector is evolving as well.
“The conference gave the attendees and the Forum an opportunity to collaborate through the workshops, sessions and keynotes,” Coffey concluded. “Next year the conference will focus on two or three highly technical and specific work items, and drive specific standards. Now, we’re looking for specific requirements from the MSOs.”