SCTE member since 1984 Title : VP Technology and Advanced Architectures, Xtend Networks Broadband Background: While he is a newcomer to Xtend Networks, Johnson is an industry veteran. Most recently he was senior vice president at Ipitek. He also has held management positions at Cablevision Systems, PowerWAN and Synchronous Group. How much additional bandwidth are MSOs seeking? And for what purposes? Only time will tell how much additional bandwidth. The MSOs are trying to either enhance or reclaim bandwidth to maintain their competitive status. In either scenario, the need for upstream and downstream bandwidth enhancements such as our offering, I believe, becomes a need more than a want at a small incremental cost. The outside influences of the RBOCs’ fiber deep strategy with high bandwidth capability for video or data; DBS’s stated intention of a high channel count HD delivery as well as bandwidth-demanding services such as VOD, HDTV and digital simulcast; and the emerging DOCSIS 3.0 standard will require MSOs to take advantage of the inherent bandwidth capacity of their current asset—coaxial cable. Xtend Networks’ advantage models technically and economically well for both commercial and residential enhanced service delivery applications. What are some options other than a traditional rebuild? Currently, the MSOs want to stay away from traditional rebuilds, and I believe there are several initiatives being undertaken by them to either improve the efficiency of the network or effectively reclaim some of their spectrum. They’re considering a broad menu of options, ranging from increases to 1 GHz, upgrading to 1,024-QAM, advanced video compression, node subdivision, conversion to all-digital, switched digital video and extended bandwidth technologies like ours. Key to their strategies to date is how they increase the intrinsic capability within their most dominant key asset—the outside plant. From an Xtend point of view, we offer an overlay solution that offers increased bandwidth/spectrum at a small incremental cost and still leverages their ability to get maximum return on their coaxial outside plant from both a cost and spectrum availability basis. What are the relative costs? It’s dangerous to look at cost alone, as the least expensive options may not yield long-term gains. My colleagues, David Large and Ron Shani, did an exhaustive study of the cost-benefit ratios of the various options, based on dollars per node per MHz. Most of the options ranged from just below $200-$300. Node splits were substantially less, but yielded limited new downstream capacity. The most cost-effective solution is the Xtend technology, which offers the greatest downstream and upstream bandwidth increase for under $100. Are there any prerequisites on the data engineering side for implementing an Xtend-style solution? No. Our solution takes advantage of the skill sets developed over several decades within the MSOs’ operational workforce within an RF domain. There are no requirements for data engineering within the outside plant facility. The required equipment for service delivery is located within the headend or hub facility, which the MSOs typically staff 24/7 with personnel having the right skill sets to support analog and digital equipment. At Cablevision, you engineered one of the industry’s first data and voice optical networks. Any lessons learned from that experience, especially in light of your new role? That project was a lot of fun. You maybe remember the network was initially a multiple hub, fully protected OC—48 SONET ring. A key lesson learned from the experience was the need for network reliability, especially at a time when the RBOCs and others had (or were promoting) the wrong perception that the cable industry as a whole couldn’t engineer or develop a reliable carrier-grade network for data and voice transmission. The service level agreements associated with the delivery of tariffed T-Carrier services were clearly defined and required engineering a network to meet "5 nines" (99.999 percent) of network availability. Another lesson learned is the fact that reliability within the network and network components breeds trust between the vendor and customer, making for a great long-term business relationship. Your team at Synchronous developed a reputation for excellent analog and optical engineering. Is that combination of skills now dated? Gosh, I hope not. I still believe there are product and network requirements that still require excellent analog and optical engineering practices. I still look at QAM carriers from an analog perspective, and we still design to analog parameters used within this industry for decades. This company has an excellent group of engineers covering both analog and optical disciplines, and I’m hoping we can promote the fact within our industry. Is there anything else in your background that will help you in your new position? Having positions within both the vendor and service provider side of the business has assisted me in understanding the metrics involved on both sides of the fence. Although different in many ways, the common goal between both groups is to succeed and develop a trust between you and your customer.