Broadband Background: Pasquinilli comes to Concurrent after seven years with Cox Communications, where he oversaw design and development of the MSO’s interactive TV (iTV) technologies, including VOD. He had previously served as a technical program manager at Scientific Atlanta, where he also worked on on-demand products and services.
Congrats on the career move and on Concurrent’s nomination for an Emmy for its contribution to Time Warner Cable’s Start Over service. You’re the new guy, but what can you tell us about Concurrent’s role here?
With this nomination, Concurrent is noted as the first VOD vendor to successfully integrate its VOD solution with Time Warner’s Start Over product and deploy that integrated solution. Time Warner launched the first Start Over deployment in Columbia, SC, in October of last year (2005). We also continue to support Time Warner as it deploys Start Over in additional markets. That Concurrent was selected for what was originally envisioned to be a full network DVR solution shows the confidence Time Warner’s design team had in Concurrent’s ability to scale and ingest massive amounts of video in real time.
While at Cox, you worked with Concurrent in the San Diego system and elsewhere, so you knew the company pretty well. What led you to join their team?
The Cox engineering team worked closely with Concurrent engineering for over six years to refine the Concurrent MediaHawk VOD system into one with exceptional session reliability. With a stable and reliable foundation in place, it is now time to move on to developing the next generation of advanced VOD services that will drive the VOD industry forward. I felt that I could help Concurrent in this area.
“Long tail” content has become a well-recognized concept, but you (and your colleagues at Cox) were talking about this several years ago. Any comments? And is it still fair to describe VOD usage as exhibiting “bursty” behavior?
Caching the most popular content at the edge is still a sound strategy for large systems. The majority of headend-to-hub bandwidth can still be attributed to a relatively few titles. Edge caching will also be an important enabler for very large real-time network DVR solutions. Concurrent’s next generation VOD platform, the MediaHawk 4500, is going to provide the densities and architectural flexibility needed to support these advanced VOD services like network DVR.
What is the next step for VOD and advertising?
MSOs are already seeing revenue from long-form VOD advertisements. Dynamic VOD ad insertion is the next step, but may require standardization and a multi-MSO broker to pull together enough eyeballs to entice the majority of national advertisers. Concurrent is committed to this emerging market trend. The acquisition of Everstream, which specializes in data analytics and reporting, allows us to provide the industry with the quantitative tools necessary to demonstrate the benefits of the ad insertion business model. We will be watching this area closely to make sure that Concurrent’s offerings pace the needs of the MSO community.
You bring a lot of OCAP expertise to the table. Where does VOD – and Concurrent – sit in the OCAP framework?
Concurrent is working with several MSOs to define and develop the open interfaces necessary to support OCAP and iTV services. The VOD system is a very powerful asset storage and delivery system. Concurrent’s open interfaces, along with OCAP, put the power of the VOD system into the hands of the application developer.
What else are you going to be working on in this new role?
My new team and I will be working on developing the advanced systems and tools that will allow application developers to fully integrate the functionality of Concurrent’s VOD system into the MSOs’ next generation of iTV applications and user interfaces. We are seeing great interest in advanced navigational technologies throughout our international markets. These new technologies will support both IPTV and legacy systems.
One last question on your previous role: I’ve heard Cox described as a home for the “engineer’s engineer.” What do you think accounts for that solid reputation?
Due to the size of Cox compared to the top two MSOs, our engineers had to work extra hard to remain relevant and influential in the industry. That meant that each of my engineers had to be a recognized leader in their area of expertise both inside the company and to our peers. With this level of responsibility, Cox engineers are forced to execute with the highest degree of competence. I’m excited about taking that level of discipline and expertise to Concurrent.