Title: Senior RF Engineer, Midcontinent Communications

Broadband Background: Haigh began his career at Optus Communications in 1995, as part of the team responsible for a path-breaking HFC deployment in Australia. He joined Denver-based High Speed Access Corp. in 2000 and Midcontinent Communications in 2002, where one of his first accomplishments was an effective preventive maintenance program. Haigh served as president of the SCTE Dakota chapter in 2006 and chairman of the board in 2007. Described by Midcontinent Corporate Engineering Manager Tom Heier as "forward thinking and innovative," Haigh received the the Young Engineer of the Year Award at last week’s SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies. The award is sponsored by Multichannel News; Scientific Atlanta, a Cisco Company; and the SCTE.

The Australian MSO that you started with, Optus Communications, is one of those rare operators that actually has developed some testing equipment. Were you a part of that effort?

Some of the Optus engineers developed a CPD (common path distortion) locator device. It was fairly effective. I used it a few times in the field, but I wasn’t a huge player in its development.

Were there any other experiences that you brought with you that have proved relevant to a North American operator?
 
Back in ’97, we did perform some of the first narrowcasting on HFC networks using 1,310 nm/1,550 nm lasers. I played a large part in field testing that technology, although another engineer worked on the design before any field testing started. The purpose was to feed nodes up to 60 km away in a single shot.

You participated in a 64 QAM upstream webcast. Could you summarize some of the lessons you learned at Midcontinent for the benefit of other operators who headed that way?
 
We found that the firmware of an entire line of devices would not work on 64-QAM, which is a DOCSIS 2.0 spec. After obtaining updated firmware downgrading the CMTS to 16-QAM, performing an upgrade to the device and then switching it back to 64-QAM, they came online.

We had problems obtaining good SNR when the modems/EMTAs were at 6.4 MHz wide above 30 MHz. At 3.2 MHz, they were working fine. When moved to a lower frequency in the mid 20 MHz range, we gained 4-5 dB SNR. We suspect the low SNR to be caused by linear distortions such as group delay or micro-reflections. Further testing needs to be performed in the field to locate the true cause of this issue. It’s going to be interesting when we find the cause, as it’s all brand new plant.

How did ET strike you? Any particular paper/presentation that you found especially useful, insightful or provocative?

I found ET to be a great insight into the next three to five years. It also confirmed that everything we’re doing at Midcontinent is on par with the top MSOs, and in some cases, we’re a few steps ahead.
 
I enjoyed the entire conference. Some of my favorites were ‘The QAM before the Storm’ pre-conference seminar, the papers on next-generation CMTS, and the session on the set-top as the fusion of television, Web and consumer content.

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