SCTE member since 2004 Title: President and Chief Operating Officer, Sigma Systems Broadband Background: Spencer joined Sigma in 1995 as chief technology officer and then vice president, engineering of the company’s Cable Service Management practice. Prior to that time, he served as director of engineering at Bell Mobility. What do you see as some of the biggest OSS challenges operators are facing? With the advent of new network architectures, cable operators are moving towards a generic edge QAM that will facilitate multiple services, versus having separate silos. Additionally, they are seeking integrated/converged CPE devices to deliver multiple services to subscribers. Meanwhile subscribers are looking for service access transparency and personalization. These technology and consumer trends drive the operational justification for a single OSS system to manage an integrated and converged system infrastructure, as opposed to patchwork solutions that exist today in many operators’ back office. How is Sigma helping them meet these challenges? Sigma continues to invest heavily in its core products and solutions. Our product has transitioned from simple service fulfillment and orchestration, to a service creation and delivery platform—one that can support the management of a myriad of subscription and on-demand based services to users and households, across multiple CPE devices and service delivery architectures. What technical teams do you work with at MSOs during implementation? It varies from one MSO to another. For smaller MSOs that are more centrally controlled, we’ll generally work with the engineering team, which has operational responsibility for OSS. That is because their IT infrastructure is much smaller. They have outsourced billing and customer care. As you move to the larger, tier-one operators, you find we are dealing 50/50 with engineering or the IT organization where IT takes on the responsibility on an enterprise basis for OSS. It is a little different than the telcos where OSS has been pretty much owned by IT. How are operators finding IT expertise to handle advanced OSS? It is a skill set that is still new to them. There are multiple elements to the domain they are bringing themselves up to speed on. They are realizing that OSS is becoming more instrumentally part of the delivery of services, not just the function of orchestrating and activating a piece of network equipment, but playing a more integral role in the delivery of services. That is requiring MSOs to scale up their resources in this area. On a case-by-case basis you find that is happening; other operators are still behind. How does OSS need to differ in a commercial vs. a residential market? While most operators have become familiar with new residential services technologies, the commercial opportunity will extend beyond into a range of multimedia services and features. Setting the stage to take advantage of these new opportunities and outpace the competition will require a well-planned approach to OSS that stresses visibility, speed to market, minimized expenses, automation and customer control. The difference between residential and commercial boils down to more stringent demands for quality, security, reliability, diagnosis and resolution of problems, and customer control. The idea of quality extends beyond the voice call or data connection to include the speed with which orders are completed, the specific knowledge about the customer a CSR has, and the amount of self-service and service personalization control extended to the enterprise administrator and end consumer of the service. Commercial service portals will support everything from checking SLA compliance to fully automating service ordering, online trouble ticket submission and management or modification of any and all service features. This will become a significant competitive advantage for cable operators, if done correctly. What are some of the ways operators can use OSS to detect and prevent network attacks? Service management is not necessarily used to detect and or prevent network attacks for an individual consumer, but is used in conjunction with tools like Sandvine’s product to isolate the attack and navigate the consumer through a process to correct the issues. Our deployment includes a walled garden web portal used to provide personalized notification to a subscriber generating malicious traffic. This portal provides recommended steps for remedying cause of malicious traffic (including upsell of any MSO-related products) and then provides an opportunity for the customer to confirm they have addressed the issue on their end so that they may return to full service. How will Sigma’s partnerships help operators? The benefit of partnerships with Sandvine, Camiant and others is that we are able to demonstrate to the operator community a pre-integrated solution that works in their very complex back office, network and service delivery environments. It is very easy to get excited about a single piece of advanced technology but operators’ experiences tell them that they need to see that technology fully integrated into their existing infrastructure, as this is often where projects fail. Sigma, and our partners want these technologies to succeed so that operators can deploy new revenue-generating services, while improving operational efficiency, and therefore we believe the investment to work with these partners benefits all. Specifically with Sandvine and Camiant, we have been focused on a pre-integrated solution to provide an automated policy-controlled response to malicious traffic (i.e. worm-generated attack traffic, SPAM, DoS, illegal P2P) for different service tiers, in order to protect upstream bandwidth and prevent bandwidth abuse. We have also included an ability to provide dynamic PCMM QoS based services that require detection of specific traffic types (i.e. video, gaming, VoIP). Are there any other partnerships you would like to mention? Sigma has developed, in conjunction with Nortel and several other parties, an out-of-the-box solution for delivering end-to-end VoIP services, including an optional customer web portal for subscriber-controlled service profile and voice feature management. This solution has been deployed in several Tier 1 customers including Adelphia and Rogers and is now getting positive response in all tiers throughout the US, Canada and Europe.