January 2006 Issue To complement this month’s lead story on next generation networks, here are some comments on strategy and emerging technology from some of some of the industry’s top leaders: Chris Bowick, CTO, Cox Communications: “Our five-year plan is centered around offering our customers the bleeding edge, not just competition; this means telephony, very high-speed data, ubiquity in VOD, switched video, a lot of HD, and then there’s convergence. We’re moving to very high data speeds, multi-fold from where we are. Our networks are moving to bandwidth on demand. With fewer homes per node, switched bandwidth, digital simulcast, and advanced codecs, we’ll have more flexibility.” Mike Hayashi, Vice President of Advanced Engineering, Time Warner Cable: “We’ve been very focused on OCAP and downloadable security with CableLabs. This has been very consuming, but is critical for our next generation in-home needs. These two projects will provide us with the CE flexibility that encompasses our next generation in home products.” Dave Fellows, CTO, Comcast Communications: “The driver for our video strategy is more content on demand. Some of our priorities include: (1) digital simulcast; (2) VOD insertion and play-lists; (3) switched broadcast, where you hit a button and the stream starts; and (4) IPTV, where you hit a button and the stream is switched to you. We’re very interested in Time Warner’s Start Over TV, Cablevision’s network PVR approach and Mystro’s EPG going backwards in time. It’s all the same thing—hit a button, and a video stream is manipulated for you. If we do it right, we can have everything run as one network.” Wayne Davis, CTO, Charter Communications “It is important that we focus on the in-home network as a part of the future. I would like to see a device that can really control all of the downstream devices and provide us with a level of management and serviceability.” Nomi Bergman, EVP of Strategy and Development, Advance/Newhouse Communications “Our long-term bandwidth management plan includes new technologies such as switched digital broadcast and advanced codecs. Advanced interactive capabilities, more VOD content, and enhanced TV programming are of particular interest. On the high-speed data and voice fronts, we continue to evolve with the acceleration of DOCSIS 2.0 and DOCSIS 3.0 development. Underlying all investments in our platform and services is our investment in proactive monitoring and network management.” Letters Training Is a Career Path CT’s Pipeline ran a Q&A with Cisco’s John Downey in the Nov. 8 edition (www.ct-magazine.com/archives/pipeline/pipe110805.html) that generated several letters about whether there’s enough training being done in the industry. Here’s one response: Here are my thoughts to the question: Is there enough or the right kind of basic training out there? If not, why? Is there enough and is it the right kind? We’d always love to see more and see it offered in different flavors, but I do believe there is enough out there to be successful today. My question would be: Is “basic training” being used and managed in the most effective manner? Many people in this industry have approached training from the standpoint that once a topic, such as return path troubleshooting, is covered in a training class, it’s done. The technician passes the class, and the expectation of that technician to employ those new skills with some degree of quality is assumed. In the past, we could live with that outcome because the room for error in the old analog world was greater. With the quality and reliability that is expected from our networks today and tomorrow and all the way to the customer premises equipment, we have to approach “basic cable training” as an ongoing process, not as an event. Alex Rodriguez, who recently won the American League MVP, posted a 0.971 fielding percentage in 2005. He was taught how to field ground balls 25 years ago, yet he still practices this task over and over and over. As an industry, we have to shift our mentality to build in opportunities for our techs to practice these basics of cable on a regular and ongoing basis. Practicing “in the game” with live customers is not an option any more. As a training professional, I welcome the requests for more basic training; it’s critical if we are to become an MVP in the eyes of our customers.