Kevin Oliver is vice president of marketing, Cable Networks, Communications Test and Measurement, for JDSU.
What products or services are you developing over the next few years, and why are they important to cable?
As today’s cable operators continue to focus on delivering a package of triple-play services over an HFC network, JDSU remains committed to providing robust test and measurement solutions that help them deploy and maintain those services successfully from the core to the edge and into the home. Rather than traditional point solutions that operators have relied on over the years, JDSU knows that it takes much more for operators to fully address the nuances and complexities surrounding triple-play deployment, including services such as VoIP. In this environment, our efforts are centered on developing integrated solutions to improve efficiencies and plant quality, helping MSOs to both attract and retain customers.
Some examples include the integration of our DSAM with our TechComplete Test Productivity software suite—the combination drastically improves the efficiency and the ability to proactively conduct field test work, catching problem areas before a customer’s service quality is affected. In addition, our NetComplete Service Assurance Solution integrates return path RF performance data from our PathTrak software solution with real-time VoIP mean opinion score (MOS) trending from our QT-600, an Ethernet and triple-play probe.
Integrated solutions like these maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the field workforce and give them confidence that the network is performing optimally and services are delivered reliably.
During your meetings with cable operators, what areas of concern do they mention most frequently?
We work with major operators around the world on high-profile, widescale deployments. In most cases, our conversations with them come back to the importance of both efficiency and the ability to scale their networks with growing technology and increasing customer demands for a variety of services. Cable operators have no shortage of systems, plenty of data, and of course new technology, but their technicians tend to be relatively inexperienced in the new area of triple-play. What they ask for are tools and systems that gather data, condense it into relevant information and present it to users when they need it.
In the early stages of deploying new services, operators can commit extra manpower to handle issues that occur early on, but as they try to scale from thousands of VoIP subscribers to millions of subscribers, for example, we can see that they are in need of systematic test and monitoring solutions—ranging from field meters to OSSs.
Do you have an international presence? If so, what’s your strategy?
JDSU has a very strong and broad international presence with a large and growing percentage of sales in international markets. We have manufacturing and R&D centers in North America, Europe and Asia and more than 80 sales and R&D sites globally, with representation in more than 164 countries. Our strategy is to develop core platforms that can support fundamental worldwide needs and then adapt/incorporate local market standards and functionality. For example, our DSAM field meters support multiple languages in the European and Asia-Pacific regions. EuroDOCSIS and EuroPacketCable are supported, as well as U.S. versions of those standards. We have found that the model of dedicating specific R&D and marketing resources/spending, in addition to local sales and support resources, works to carefully identify local needs and incorporate them into our products effectively, delivering the support our customers rely on to ensure service quality no matter where you are in the world.
If you had to pick one area for the cable industry to become more focused on, what is it and why?
The cable industry as a whole must become more focused on a proactive approach to network maintenance and service deployment. Now more than ever, they should place greater emphasis on customer satisfaction—from the time of installation to the delivery of the service into the home. A smooth, quality installation makes a solid first impression to the end customer, and an organized, consistent installation process is a terrific start—whether it is with direct employees or contractors. Effective and efficient installation practices reduce repeat calls and improve customer retention rates, too. After installation, rapid fault identification and detection tools combined with smart analysis systems allow proactive maintenance and a decrease in network down time. These test and measurement tools are essential in today’s intensely competitive communications industry.
Which is the biggest threat to the cable industry: telcos, satellite or over-the-top providers?
We see specific challenges from each of those groups to cable operators. Depending on the region of the world or country dynamics, the competitive threat level will vary. However, the cable HFC infrastructure is strongly suited to deploy integrated and advanced services to consumers, giving cable a strong ability to compete effectively. In addition, the HFC upgrades for much of the cable industry are widely in place, which, one could argue, might provide a time-to-market leg up over the telcos.
What service or product will have the biggest impact on cable subscribers over the next five years?
VoIP is clearly the service that is changing the dynamic of cable offerings in the immediate future. That’s because VoIP completes the triple-play (voice, video, data) offering and allows cable subscribers to consolidate services and integrate billing. However, looking forward over the next five years, advanced digital video services (enabled by IP video sourcing, whole-home networking and wireless integration) will create the biggest shift in how subscribers use a traditional video service. The combination of these could truly give cable subscribers the ability to get the content they want, when they want it and where they want it. This is a tremendous change to the broadcast and fixed-location nature of traditional video. Having served in this industry for many years, I found it interesting to see the full circle swing of the cable market—packaging video services in the beginning to high-speed data as a differentiator, to VoIP as growth opportunity, and then back to the challenges of packaging and delivering video again.