SCTE Member since 1995 Title: President & CEO, NGB Broadband Background: Hannes originally got involved in the industry in the early 1980s when he was looking at setting up a large-scale broadband network in Australia. He was the major owner of a successful radio network and was searching for possible areas to expand the business. Later he formed a partnership with Continental and eventually joined Continental as head of its international operations in the early 1990s. First with Continental and then with US West, he was involved in setting up new broadband networks in a number of countries in Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Hannes was subsequently appointed to run the newly expanding high-speed data operations for all of US West’s international operations in Europe, South America and Asia. Can you tell us about your work with Continental Cablevision? Working at Continental was fun. We had a great team with guys like Amos Hostetter, Tim Nehrer and others. While on one hand it was a great “nuts and bolts” company, we had some of the very best strategic insight that Amos gave to his operating guys, and we all produced when it was needed. You also had a stint at US West; what did you learn there? US West was a different kind of company than Continental. It was an older, larger and more conservative enterprise. It had its strengths and talented people, but in hindsight, this type of company structure and organization did not really suit the fast-moving, entrepreneurial style of the cable industry at the time. You worked with David Fellows, among others, back then. What did you guys see in the crystal ball for cable, and did any of it come to fruition? In the early 1990s at Continental with people like David Fellows, Bill Schleyer and Amos Hostetter, we spent a lot of time discussing options and developing plans for the future of cable as we saw it. Convergence: voice, video and data services over a ubiquitous HFC platform was a key goal. We knew we could do it, but maybe it took longer than we first thought. What has surprised you most about cable in your time with the industry? The cable industry is very resilient. Although sometimes it doesn’t seem to move as quickly as it could on new opportunities, its ingenuity and entrepreneurial flair allows the industry to react, re-invent and extend itself regularly to establish new markets—high-speed data is a great example of this. How did you become involved with SCTE? I joined the SCTE when I was at Continental. With my background in engineering, I was getting very involved in a number of our large new system deployments and saw this as a way of extending my contacts and knowledge base in the technical and engineering areas. Can you tell us about the origins of NGB? I founded NGB with two partners after I left Road Runner in 2001. At that time, I was president of Road Runner International and could see some important issues that the industry was starting to confront, but where there were significant technical hurdles to solve the problems. We set about creating the technology to allow network operators to have dynamic control of all types of devices and appliances on their rapidly growing IP networks. From this beginning, we began to develop various products and applications based on our DACS (Device Application Control System) platform, which is integrated into existing operational data centers via our patent pending Smartbridge technology. What is one of the keys to VoIP deployments? Although VoIP has been seen for some time to be a significant growth opportunity for the cable industry, deployments have lagged behind most expectations. Part of the problem has been the not insignificant issue around the integration of the backend systems that makes large-scale deployment of the voice service possible. Given my experience in the early days of digital voice at Optus (a Continental-Bell South joint venture in Australia), I am acutely aware of these issues. One of the key challenges going forward now will be to completely automate the procedures for customer activation, both to bring down costs and ensure quality and also to allow operators to install fast enough to meet their significant sales objectives. One of your products, Auto Install III, has been deployed by Cox; why is it important, and what does it do? Cox chose NGB because they wanted to completely automate installation and activation on their high-speed data and IP networks. The key motivations for Cox were to simplify the process both from the operator’s as well as the consumer’s point of view. This leads both to a competitive advantage in faster (shorter lead-time) installations and higher consumer satisfaction and, conversely, significantly reduced installation and customer service costs. Happy customers—lower installation costs! What are the challenges facing cable over the next 10 years, and how will NGB help the industry solve some of them? Like any other growing industry, the cable industry’s key challenge will be to maintain the significant growth it has achieved over the past two decades faced with increased competition and increased options for consumer spending. To be successful going forward, cable again will need to leverage its ability to change and transform to create new products and businesses to maintain revenue growth and margins. NGB can contribute significantly to cable’s growth by providing the systems that give operators complete flexibility in introducing, changing and modifying product offerings to meet rapidly changing demands from the consumer. By automatically controlling end devices such as modems, EMTAs, gaming consoles and digital set-tops to mention just a few, we can differentiate services and products to meet the needs of different market segments and/or react quickly to competitive threats. This will be crucial to allowing cable to extend its position as the leading player in the IP network services marketplace.