SCTE member since 2004 Title : Comcast VP of Network and Transport Engineering Congratulations on winning the IP Innovator of the Year Award at the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies. What’s your background in this area? Thank you. I started working on the ARPANET quite a few years ago, and began working in the cable space when I joined Continental Cablevision, where I first worked for Dave Fellows. After Continental Cablevision was acquired by U.S. West in 1996, and subsequently split to MediaOne, I left and went to work for Road Runner. In 2002, when AT&T Broadband was acquired by Comcast, I joined the company and once again began working for Dave. Your colleagues at Comcast include Kevin McElearney and VikSaxena, correct? Yes. Kevin is the VP in charge of backbone deployment and engineering. Vik is a director, and works with me in multiple areas, but his expertise lies in the optics area. He has been responsible for driving much of the OTI (Open Transport Initiative), our RAN (regional area networks) rollouts, and our backbone itself. So as for OTI, could you tell me about the areas that you wanted to work on? The goal is to build a scalable, manageable and interoperable platform with our key vendors. A major driver for the backbone side of the OTI is the IP optical integration and convergence that has been taking place. In order to be able to effectively run and manage a large national network, along with all of our regional networks—we are in 35 states plus D.C.—we have to make sure we have interoperable standards between our vendors’ equipment. For example, although encoding schemes are based on standards, they don’t always specify everything to the appropriate degree. Or it may be the case that they are implemented based on a certain specification, but the implementations may not interoperate; or interoperate only partially, but not to the level where they can be deployed and managed. We are looking to leverage the standards that exist, define what interfaces we expect to be there, and then work towards true interoperability. There are standard form factors, such as G-BIC, right? Yes, GBIC and SMP on the 1-Gig level and then XENPAK and XMP on the 10. However, the types of FEC and encapsulation currently in place are not as standardized as they could be. And it looks like you’re going to be working in some way with ITU? I’m not sure that we’re going to be taking anything to ITU, but we’re certainly trying to leverage the work that that’s been done there. What about other standards, such as GMPLS? Let me take a step back. One of our objectives is to deploy our platform meet our cost-effectives in the RAN, and then utilizing the same technology at the national level. We’re deploying 10GigE technologies in the base, which is not as standardized as some of the SONET technologies because it’s still pretty new. As far as GMPLS, much of the work provisioning circuit trunks dynamically with GMPLS has already been done. We’re looking to extend that to the photonic domain to determine what characteristics and attributes need to be communicated. It’s a great way to provide visibility to the optical infrastructure, so we can start to leverage applications like tunability and wavelength-selectable paths within the infrastructure. So that plays into the ROADMs category? ROADMs and, as we move forward, there will be MEMs. One exciting aspect of the optics space is that there is a lot of technology that has yet to be taken advantage of and exploited for these new services. Can you speak to the time you took to announce your partners on the backbone build? Tactically, we’ve learned not to signal anything while focusing on the work internally. We’ve been continuing to build and light-up the infrastructure from D.C. to Boston. It’s been a lot of work. That leg was the initial trial, correct? Yes, it’s in production today, and we continue to build out in phases. Do you expect to take OTI to other MSOs, or to CableLabs? Right now we’re focused on meeting objectives that Comcast has. We’re thrilled to have our two strategic vendors, Nortel and Cisco, engage us on this. It’s really crucial to the success of our backbone project. If there’s interest from other cable companies, I’m sure we can look into that working with them, and if anything that gets developed out of the initiative, then they would certainly be able to take advantage of that. These are the first two vendors. Do you expect others? We’d certainly like to see other strategic vendors participate if that makes sense. And, if there are other vendors that bring unique technology, we’re definitely interested in speaking with them, as well.

The Daily



Playwright and filmmaker David Talbert is working with Disney Branded Television on a musical series, “Madelyn Square Gardens,” about a young woman from Mississippi who moves to New York with big Broadway

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