SCTE Member since 1994 Title: VP Engineering and Technical Operations, Comcast (Seattle-based) Washington State Region. (This region was designated this year’s System of the Year by Communications Technology. For more on this award and Seattle’s achievements, see the August issue.) Broadband Background: Taber was previously division director of engineering for the Oregon and Washington territories for AT&T Broadband. He started his cable career in 1974 with Gerity Cablevision in Michigan. At Comcast, Taber oversees tech ops, outside plant engineering, new technology, engineering, the NOC for Oregon and Washington, the conditional access system, and telephone provisioning. Taber is also an avid outdoor enthusiast. What follows are some greatest hits from Taber’s interview with CT magazine: On what explains Seattle’s ability to execute and maintain such high performance: We’ve just got great people up here, a really good team. We have very good communication linkage with the field offices and the call center. We plan this stuff. We have dedicated project managers. We really work on the planning and execution to deliver what we take as the best product to the customer. On the employee basis of the post (AT&T/Comcast) merger, talent management assessment plan: We routinely send out surveys to our employees. And that was one of the things that we found out: The folks at all levels really want to work with people who want to work and be productive. And so we listened to them and formulated that plan. On what else accounts for Seattle’s low trouble-call rates: You’ve got to start out with good hubs and good outside plant. In addition to that, we do drop certification. Every time we’re at the home, we do a level of certifying the drop. Again, it’s really getting people that want to do the stuff and providing the training for it. We have a good training platform out here, and we write methods and procedures for each type of job and provide clear instructions to the tech. It’s a bunch of those little things put together that will net us the lower trouble call rate. On preventive maintenance: One of our primary tools is the "Worst 100 nodes." It comes out on a daily basis. There’s a bunch of math behind evaluating information from the customer premises equipment and some other things, and we apply a weighting to a node. Nobody wants to be on that list. What I’ve seen, from when we first initiated this plan, is that the average number of the top 100 based on this weighting was a certain level, and that over the months it has dropped down pretty significantly. There’s always going to be a worst 100, but the initial worst is much worse than what we’re looking at now. More on preventive maintenance: We have the worst 100, and we’re also looking at the most penetrated nodes, verifying that those on the preventive side are as good as they can possibly be because of the high customer penetration …. We take the worst 100 and then the most penetrated list, and then we work it both ends. On employee confidence: Our employees take a lot of pride in that we are the best. Our system performs very well. We think we have a good delivery platform …. When you look at all the competitors, by and large, they are not doing what we’re doing, and that gives the outside folks a lot of confidence. On business services and GIS technologies: With our mapping system, we are able to geo-code proximity of plant to commercial addresses. We can bucket those in terms of distance from plant and make it more systematic in terms of how we try to get the sales.