SCTE member since 1989 Title : Independent Consultant, President, Accuracy Systems, LLC. Broadband Background : Hayden most recently worked as corporate director of technical operations for United Pan-European Communications (UPC) in the Netherlands. He also has served as an on-site leader in Japan, Taiwan, Brazil and Europe. His cable career started in 1984, and he was elevated to SCTE Senior Member status in 2003. How did you get involved in the international cable scene? In the late 1980s, Denver was the " Cable Capital, " and I was fortunate to be working there. My first international " posting " was through Coaxial International , a cable industry consulting company. It was two weeks from the time I interviewed to the time I was on-site in Fukuoka, Japan, building cable. What started as a one-year project management assignment turned into four fantastic years. Working in and experiencing the culture was very rewarding—fueling my desire to continue working in cable. It has been 16 years since then, with more long-term assignments in Taiwan, Brazil, Europe, and Russia. What is the Russian market like? In my view, along with the expanding economy, Russia ‘ s home entertainment and broadband market is poised to experience rapid growth. Most of Russia ‘ s 145 million population resides in high-density apartment communities. This is a plus in terms of network design and construction. On the high end, you ‘ ll find 800 to 1,000 homes or more per kilometer. Most of the original networks, either per building or in a community, are more akin to one-way MATV systems, and there is as much vertical plant as horizontal. Opening of the broadcast and satellite programming markets has created considerable demand for more system bandwidth and more network consolidation. Virtually every metropolitan household is connected to these systems and receives a social package of broadcast for a small fee. In Moscow, for example, the typical system may deliver to each subscriber 12 to 14 terrestrial broadcast channels (VHF/UHF). These older networks need a lot of care and feeding, and upgrades or rebuilds are needed if more programming or services are intended. For the most part, terrestrial broadcast programming dominates what you find in the home on these older systems. I ‘ d estimate 75 percent of the homes passed have a 240 MHz top end and no upstream plant. There are a few entrepreneurial operators, large and small, building two-way HFC systems in major cities. Overall, new HFC-type systems throughout Russia likely represent under a million-and-a-half homes. On these networks, cable modem service and penetration rates continue to grow. Coupled with a large dial-up market that is ready for faster speeds and always-on access, all are fueling the market to upgrade or new-build two-way plant. It is a competitive market that includes MMDS, Ethernet-to-the-home, DSL, and satellite operators. Recently, IPTV over DSL made its debut in Moscow. Is it still a "Wild West" place to do business? For cable, I can say absolutely! Everywhere you look, there is progress happening, acquisition investments being made, and new opportunities unfolding for operators, programmers and vendors. To be sure, you have to know the market. What kind of technical challenges do the operators there face? Russian cable operators share many of the same operational challenges, especially ingress noise and reliability. Government communications regulations limit upstream bandwidth to 30 MHz, making noise a major factor in performance of cable modem service—especially where operators are trying to leverage old drop wiring to limit costs. The older institutional systems require continuous maintenance. It is not uncommon to find unshielded breadboard style passives and 30-plus-year-old amplifiers with discrete single end gain stages for VHF and UHF. In major metropolitan centers, the high cost of civil work to install your own conduit and fiber may ruin a business plan. There is a continuous effort to access existing conduit and fiber as economically as possible. The governing regulations limiting reverse split systems to 30 MHz and stringent port-to-port isolation requirements for new plant add significantly to operational and capital spending. How would you describe your four years in Holland? They were tumultuous ones for cable, weren’t they? When I came on board, UPC was on a mission to become the largest European MSO and had acquired cable operations in 11 different European countries. That was the Wild West of European cable! UPC, now Liberty Global , centered its headquarters and network operation center near Amsterdam in the heart of UPC’s flagship system, UPC Netherlands. What added to the engineering challenge was integrating the many systems with different RF bandwidths (450 MHz to 860 MHz downstream and 30 MHz to 65 MHz upstream), large node sizes, and multiple drop architectures—all of these with different technologies and vendors, capacities, services, field operations, and know-how. Consolidation and standardization on many levels was the priority, and delivering high quality " triple-play " services was the goal—one successfully delivered! Today, Liberty Global is a European market leader in VoIP rollouts. I understand you’ve been looking into bandwidth constraint issues. Is that more of a North American issue? (Or is it really an issue here?) I am developing the perspective that downstream RF bandwidth on cable systems is becoming an issue worldwide. Triple-play (video, Internet and phone) interactive services, digital tiers, HD, and the increasing universe of programming are challenging many large-system operators and their creativity to find more downstream capacity. It is difficult to imagine a cable world with all digital plant, especially with a universe of analog TV sets working fine and delivering on customer expectations. But this seems to be the direction the industry and technology is going, especially with growing HD and IP-type services. That being said, however, it is not clear that more efficient compression or higher-order modulation (on plant where possible) will provide lasting downstream bandwidth solutions for traditional cable operators. If all the services and demand the industry anticipates materialize, unused upstream bandwidth (within 5-42 MHz) may run out as well. It may be hard to visualize this happening, but it is a reality dealt with by many operators. In the United States, the industry investment and emphasis on system engineering, standardized practices and training are paying off in terms of greater system reliability—and much more. This keeps us ahead competitively. It may also offer a platform for more revenue through commercial services. Fiber to the home, DSL and Ethernet to the home technologies are increasingly being developed and deployed. As an industry, we need to take a long-term view to compete effectively.