SCTE member since 2000 Title : Vice President, Standards, SCTE Broadband Background : Oksala joined SCTE’s staff after a 35-year career with the Unisys Corp. Most recently at Unisys, he was director of standards and regulatory compliance. Could you review the SCTE’s role in standards creation? The SCTE staff is the facilitator for the creation of standards for the cable industry; we provide the infrastructure in which the SCTE volunteers-technical individuals from MSOs, vendors, and others-get together to develop the technical content of standards. We provide the tools for that work (meeting arrangements, email reflectors, document repositories, document editing, approval processing, etc.) and enforce the rules that govern participation. Staff doesn’t participate in the technical debates. What does it mean for a standard to be both SCTE and ANSI certified? An SCTE standard is one that has passed two steps. It is approved by the technical consensus body; this is the standards subcommittee. Then it is approved by the SCTE Engineering Committee. Once it is an SCTE standard, we can (and normally do) submit it for further approval by ANSI as an American National Standard. That requires a public review process, where anyone can submit comments, and SCTE has to address them. Once that process is complete and ANSI determines that we had no flaws in our procedures, the standard will be designated as an ANSI standard. How is SCTE represented at ANSI? I am a vice chairman of the board, so I am on both the Board of Directors and the Board Executive Committee. I represent SCTE on the International Policy Committee and the National Policy Committee. (The latter deals with domestic standardization and government relations). Although we are not a company, I also participate in the ANSI Company Member Forum’s subgroup on telecommunications standards. Robin Fenton represents SCTE in the Organizational Member Forum, which is the group of ANSI standards developers. She is also on the Board of Standards Review, which is the group that actually approves American National Standards on behalf of ANSI. Tom Russell represents SCTE in the Homeland Security Standards Panel, which is a group that coordinates standards and provides an interface between standards developers and the U.S. government. As far as standards, how does the SCTE interact with CableLabs? Two of our subcommittees, CAP and DSS, are primarily involved in taking CableLabs’ specifications and turning them into standards. We turn them into SCTE and then ANSI standards, and we also act as the path by which the specifications are submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). CableLabs also interacts with us by participating in other standards work where they do not provide the specifications. What about SCTE’s role in working with international standards organizations? As noted above, we are active in submitting CableLabs work to ITU. We also are involved with another international standards organization, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Representation in IEC is by country, so the standards staff and volunteers represent SCTE in determining U.S. positions and contributions. We are active in IEC’s technical committees on cable and connectors as well as the technical committee on multimedia systems, which includes a working group on cable networks. Three SCTE standards from the HMS Subcommittee were submitted and approved in this latter group. Any new standards you can comment on? I think the most interesting new work is in our Digital Program Insertion Working Group, where they are looking at more methodologies for inserting advertising into program streams and getting a more sophisticated distribution to the audience. This is an area where it’s really easy to show that standardization can contribute directly to the bottom line of the MSO. I also would like to mention the group that’s working on a guide to the National Electrical Code, which will provide a way for MSOs and local regulators to agree on just what has to be done in installations. How does cable’s standards work compare with other industries you know? Cable standards work puts less emphasis on international standards because our primary members are in North America, and MSOs can’t do things the same way in other countries. The other difference-which I find really interesting-is that we have a more complex problem than, for example, the computer industry. In IT, there are a bunch of vendors who are competing, and they are the primary participants in standards. Cable is different from that in two ways. First, it is the users-the MSOs-rather than the vendors who drive the process. And second, where the IT industry has one level of competitors, we have several. We not only have the MSOs and the equipment vendors for cable, connectors and electronic equipment—we have the whole consumer electronics industry and even the National Association of Broadcasters! So we get a really wide variety of views, and that makes consensus- building a bigger challenge for the participants. How does someone get involved? Participation is open to anyone who is employed by a member of the standards program; all they have to do is ask, and they can get as involved as they’d like. Some people just follow what’s happening, and others devote a lot of time and energy.