Daniel Howard, the former CTO of SCTE, recently joined Hitachi Consulting as dir of energy solutions, the company announced Mon. He’s charged with helping cable/telecom companies deploy new energy sustainability programs, plan for and implement DOCSIS 3.1 and other next-gen access networks and overall broadband infrastructure. He will also help launch new WiFi programs. “I have one foot in the energy group because of my background in Energy 2020, and one foot in the communications, media and entertainment group,” Howard told us. Howard stepped down in Feb, 2015 from the tech chief role at SCTE to become a fellow at the organization. Moving forward on the energy side, Howard said he will focus on achieving operational efficiency in the operators’ edge facilities and outside plants, the same goal that the SCTE Energy 2020 program seeks to achieve. All communications providers have the same problem when it comes to energy use: The majority of their power consumption comes from hubs, head-ends and active equipment on the HFC network, Howard said. Part of it has to do with the legacy networks, and “it’s not cost-effective to replace it overnight.”
When it comes to wireless, WiFi First technology, which refers to mobile devices and services using WiFi as the primary network and cellular networks only to fill the gaps, will be a game-changer for cable, opening doors for various new business models, Howard said. Hitachi is working with a major US cable op to deploy WiFi access points and create a unified back-office infrastructure, he said. An important piece of the WiFi First strategy is upgrading cable modems in a way that could enable community WiFi, where a 2nd SSID (the service set identifier) is available to passers-by who are subs of cable ops and their partners. That essentially turns home WiFi into community hotspots, which could help cable ops attract wholesale customers as well as retail subs. As WiFi becomes a viable wireless option, cable’s addressable market will be significantly expanded, according to Howard. “It’s critical to get this done as soon as possible,” he said. Reflecting on his 5+ years at SCTE, Howard said one of the biggest changes is the revamp of the group’s standards program to focus on the development of operational practices. The move seeks to make it easier for members to implement new standards like DOCSIS 3.1 and roll out initiatives like Energy 2020, he said. “We have gone from a handful of operational practices to dozens now and it will grow even more,” he said.