Buzz words may bounce around show floors, but the hot apps don’t become a reality for consumers until operators actually implement the related technology.
In Tuesday’s “Road Trip: Mapping Cable’s New Tech Progression," execs from some of the largest MSOs dished about where things stand and where they are headed.
For starters, DOCSIS 3.0 is making serious inroads. Sixty-five percent of Suddenlink Communications’ basic subscribers have access to it, and that number should increase to 75 percent by year end, said Terry Cordova, SVP and CTO.
Meanwhile, Dermott O’Carroll, SVP, access networks, Rogers Cable Communications said his company has completed 100 percent of its DOCSIS 3.0 network deployment.
“We want to keep pace with competition. We are selling nothing but 3.0 gear,” Michael LaJoie, CTO Time Warner Cable, added.
As for mobile strategies, Cox Communications continues to believe in the need to have mobility as part of its portfolio. “We believe that mobile data will happen. It is important to have some of our own assets when you think about how important those services will be,” said Scott Hatfield, EVP and CTO.
Rogers has integrated its wireless and cable companies to ensure a unified view of the network. “The challenges are in keeping up with capacity and demand,” O’Carroll said, adding, however, that the traffic glut might be less than people are predicting.
O’Carroll pointed to one Rogers’ plan with a 6G bit cap. “It is a very rare occasion when anyone comes close to 6G on an iPhone.”
IP Video Momentum
IP Video is less about IP and more about satisfying consumer demands, said Tony Werner, EVP and CTO, Comcast Cable. “You’ve got all these IP-enabled devices that want video…The iPad crystallizes that for everybody…We need an easy way to get our content to them.”
Comcast has had IP on the backbone and CDN for a long time. IP has been converted back for the last mile. Looking forward, the company is “fairly supportive” of fragmented MPEG4, Werner said.
“The costs to deliver an hour of video over IP will be the same as MPEG2 transport. CMTS costs are coming down rapidly,” Werner said.
The end goal, however, is not necessarily all IP. “What I worry about most is consumer and device sophistication growing so rapidly. I worry about getting in lockstep with that..and being the provider of choice when you walk in the house with a new device,” Werner said.
Companies can’t go all IP because consumers aren’t. “We will have to deliver to conventional devices for a long time,” O’Carroll said.
LaJoie predicted MPEG2 transport boxes will be around at least ten more years. “There are a certain number of customers who are perfectly happy with those devices and don’t want to get connected with IP.”
In line with being the provider of choice no matter the device, LaJoie said operators will have to enable home networking. “We are going to have to enable an environment where devices can discover other devices in the home. If the trick is having all devices play together, give customer a control that is simple. The devices wake up and find other stuff.”
Symmetrical services may no longer be the holy grail. “We have seen more growth in downstream than in upstream in the last 24 months, (but) there is continual growth on up and down. We will continue to step up both of them,” Werner said.
“Traffic has (actually) become more assymetrical over (the last) couple of years,” O’Carroll said, noting that 90 percent of traffic is expected to be video, which is downstream.