SCTE Member Since 1999 Title: VP, Technical Sales Broadbus Technologies Broadband background: Skarica spent 10 years in the Canadian cable Industry (Maclean-Hunter, Rogers, and Cogeco Cable) before moving to Nortel Networks in 1999. At Nortel he became chief technical advisor of the company’s global MSO solutions team. A holder of multiple patents, he joined Broadbus in 2004. In the current issue of CT you co-authored an article with Mediacom’s Joe Selvage on network convergence. Why and how is this happening? Convergence in the MSO network is occurring in many ways and at many layers of the OSI model. As we all know, the MSO access network is already a converged, single coaxial pipe for the delivery of all residential services via analog and digital RF signals. In the metro and regional digital transport network, convergence is also occurring. Over the past few years, many MSOs have deployed unified digital optical transport networks with DWDM as the underlying and enabling layer 1 optical technology. In this article, we point to how MSOs have used DWDM technology as a unifying underlay to their disparate, overlay transport networks. And how consolidation of traffic from various broadband cable services over unified digital DWDM optical transport networks have allowed cable operators to collapse current overlays and enabled the seamless support of newer low cost, high bandwidth protocols, such as GigE/10 GigE and Fibre Channel, in their native formats. Recently, many operators have embraced IP/GigE/DWDM transport mechanisms for the delivery of high-speed data and voice over IP services. With significant infrastructure investments having been made in the areas of IP routing, DOCSIS CMTSs, and GigE/DWDM transport, MSOs must now manage traditional analog and digital video transport networks, as well as the new, converged digital transport network. Where do you see this all headed? MSOs are investigating and/or deploying new video technologies to enable the "all-digital" delivery of broadcast and narrowcast video services. The point being: to reduce set- top equipment costs and provide more competitive offerings. These will enable the MSO community to converge all broadcast and narrowcast video services onto the same transport infrastructures used for high-speed data and voice services, while also allowing the continued near term support of traditional AM-VSB modulated analog video within the HFC access network. Where does on-demand fit in that picture? Early MSO VOD server deployments were primarily based on the DVB-ASI transport protocol for streaming functions with a fixed and static topology between the disk-based VOD server and associated RF edge QAM devices. The MSO digital transport network, dominated in the late 1990s by SONET, ATM, and proprietary video transport systems, was cost prohibitive and not well-suited for the transport of native DVB-ASI. Most MSOs enabled early VOD service by utilizing a highly distributed architecture with VOD servers located at the majority of network hubs. Centralized deployments of carrier-class VOD server systems are now underway by many MSO divisions. This has largely been enabled by the emergence of the kind of low-cost, GigE-based, DWDM optical transport systems mentioned above and next-generation IP/GigE based video server technology. Most MSOs are preparing their VOD infrastructures now for the inevitable—the nonlinear, everything-on-demand viewing future. This requires massive, real-time ingest capabilities as well as the separation and independent scaling of streaming/ingest and storage capacity. What’s the case for DRAM-based servers? Why not leverage the latest commercial off-the-shelf technology? For MSO service delivery, I will always be a firm believer in carrier-class, purpose-built hardware solutions that utilize low-cost commodity components, such as DRAM, while providing outstanding performance, high availability, pay-as-you-grow scalability, and long-term investment protection against hardware obsolescence. This is the case with today’s DWDM optical transport equipment, IP routing equipment, voice switching equipment, digital video processing equipment, and I believe the same applies to on-demand technology solutions. Our industry does not use low-cost commodity routers from Radio Shack to perform core IP routing, and VOD is no different, especially as we move to a unicast service model for multiple video channels with applications such as TWC’s StartOver service. Broadbus has taken a unique approach to solving the long-term on-demand content and streaming/ingest scalability problem faced by legacy technology solutions. We believe the correct resolution to this problem involves an open standards-based, yet purpose-built software and hardware approach. You ride the SCTE chapter event circuit. How often do you present? What are members interested in these days? I joined the SCTE first in the early 1990s and have been a committed SCTE member for several years. I am also a member of the SCTE Ontario chapter. I have presented technology papers at over 15 different SCTE local chapter events throughout North America over the past few years. Last year, the biggest interest at the chapter events was with DOCSIS 1.1/2.0 and CableLabs-compliant VoIP technology and solutions. Recently, and I expect this to continue for the remainder of the year, the biggest interest is with digital simulcast, switched broadcast, and advanced on-demand technologies and system architectures. Is today’s pace of MSO technology deployment comparable with any other period in your experience? Say, when you were at Rogers? The pace of MSO technology deployment over the past 24 months is the fastest I have seen my 17 years in the industry. I think this is due to the competitive environment our industry is now faced with and the MSOs’ rush to secure triple-play subscribers with advanced video, voice, and high-speed data offerings. This has resulted in rapid deployment of the underlying technology infrastructure required to support these services in a cost-effective yet highly reliable manner. The trend will continue as operators move to deploy "all digital" video service offerings with digital simulcast and switched broadcast technology solutions. On a personal note, what can you tell us about your horses? You’re expecting? I live on a hobby farm in Canada in the upper Ottawa valley and I own several horses. It is true that we are expecting two foals this spring. My wife and I (and six-year-old daughter) are very excited. Our German Warmblood mare is due in just under four weeks, and our Quarterhorse mare is due in about 11 weeks. This will make the spring and summer around the farm most interesting and lots of fun.