SCTE member since 1999 Title : Vice President of Engineering, Cox Communications New Orleans Broadband Background : Prior to joining Cox Communications, Latino worked 11 years for GTE. What extent is the damage to the cable plant due to Hurricane Katrina? Cox Communications New Orleans network has suffered unprecedented damage due to Hurricane Katrina. Much of the system’s underground plant has been flooded, while aerial plant sustained some wind damage. The system took on substantial damage to distribution and the drop network. How many customers in the area depend on Cox for voice services as well as cable? Cox Communications New Orleans services approximately 270,000 cable customers. Cox does not provide telephone subscriber numbers for competitive reasons. Where did you begin in repairing the damage? Where are you currently in the process? Cox Communications New Orleans services the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and St. Charles. Within 48 hours, Cox had teams in the field beginning the initial damage assessment of the network. Due to Katrina’s impact in affecting the parishes in the eastern part of the system, Cox was able to move from west to east in the company’s efforts to restore the network and services. As Cox moved farther to the east in the system, the damage increased. Cox restored the system in a logical fashion as technicians and engineers worked from the system’s headend out to the hub then to the node and eventually to the customer. Our initial focus was to make sure the headend and hub facilities were functioning and that the backbone network was restored. Progressively, field engineers and technicians went from hub to node to eventually restore services to our customers. By the eighth week, Cox had restored services to virtually all customers capable of receiving services. Today, Cox recovery teams are now working in the most impacted areas that received significant flooding. These areas currently do not have residents inhabiting these homes. The challenge in areas that sustained flooding will be to initially restore the network and infrastructure in those affected areas. The ability of getting services restored will be incumbent on the homeowners to let us know when they are ready to receive services from Cox. After connecting large numbers of customers over the weeks after Katrina, the process from here on out will be a slow one. Homeowners in these areas will be faced with the decision to gut out or simply level their homes and rebuild. This will require the homeowners to rewire their homes and then let us know when they are ready to receive services. How long do you think it will be before operations are normal again? What are the determining factors? We are back to business as usual in the parishes of Jefferson and St. Charles as well as in areas that did not sustain flooding in Orleans Parish. We are providing services to approximately 65 percent of our pre-storm network. For the remaining 35 percent, those areas will largely be dependent on the rebuilding of those flooded areas. Cox plans to be ready to provide services when those areas are ready to be inhabited. How important is restoring cable TV in the process of bringing everyday life back to normal for Katrina victims? In the absence of other sources of information, our services are critical for having information and news delivered instantly and timely. Our customers depend on Cox to deliver pertinent information in times of crisis in order to assist customers with information to make better and informed decisions. At some point, our services also provide the necessary entertainment for our customers. Additionally, we realize we are restoring data and phone for our customers. We are not just allowing customers to receive information and entertainment, but also are providing the ability to communicate with the outside world. Cox realizes the importance of customers being able to let their families know of their welfare and status after such a terrible catastrophe. Does the cable industry have technology that can fill a gap in emergency management scenarios? At Cox, we feel we have built a very robust network. To complement our technology investment, we have a comprehensive business continuity plan for handling these situations. Through other similar disasters we have gained experience in how to rapidly recover and restore our networks. Will Cox take the opportunity to upgrade its plant in any way as it is repairing the damage? Certainly in areas where we face a significant amount of rebuild. The network we will build will be better and more robust than before.

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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