'Shift Happens': Cable's World Changing ... Again

Comcast's Tony Werner "Shift Happens." With these two words that could mean, oh, so much, Tony Werner, EVP and CTO of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), summed up not only the focus of the General Session last Tuesday morning at Cable-Tec Expo, but also the waves of increased competition cable has had to ride and the way the industry has always responded by leveraging its scale and technology.

Giving a nod to longtime friend and this year's SCTE Chairman's Award recipient, Mike LaJoie, EVP, CTO and chief network operations officer of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), who helped him coin the aforementioned phrase, Werner noted that cable has not only survived, but also thrived against competitive advances first from Blockbuster and the VCR, then from direct to home (DTH) satellite and the telcos. Today, technology continues to erode barriers to entry, and cable is experiencing an onslaught of new competitors, some with networks and some without, that have value propositions that are hard to duplicate, "great" customer service and fulfillment, and products that are available at retail, Werner said.

"They are spreading in a way that is viral in nature," Werner said. "This will make (cable) stronger, and we will adapt to this like we did in the past."

Cable needs to sweat the details, from customer service to the physical packaging of products. In other words, CPE has to look like it's coming from a high-end consumer electronics company and not from a power tool manufacturer, Werner said. And the user interface is "critically important."

"Content is king, but we also believe there is a queen - a rich content navigation system that allows (viewers) to find content, curates it, and recommends it for (them), Werner said.

Cable also has to learn critical lessons from competitors who have a fast time to market, which delves into the concept of DevOps and agile development. "(The concept is to get a) minimal viable product out to market so fast and then evolve it," Werner said. "This takes years out of the process .... While competitors are using this as they come in, these are the same techniques and tools that we as a cable industry have to use."

Rob Lloyd, president of development and sales for Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), echoed this sentiment in his keynote address. The industry has to move from waterfall development, with six-month release schedules, to the DevOps model with real-time prototyping. "The Internet guys are releasing twice a day," he said. "If we are really good, we may release twice a year."

Cisco already is seeing results as it has taken the first of its development groups through the transformation. "We have had big transitions in the past, but the move to the cloud, agile development and DevOps will be transformational for all of us," Lloyd said.

In March, Cisco announced its intent to spend $1 billion over two years to expand its cloud business, including the creation of an Intercloud, or a network of clouds, with select partners. The idea is to allow organizations to share applications and data across clouds. Customers in a particular industry could access the building-block apps that make sense to them. It would take what is delivered from an appliance and put it into the cloud, Lloyd said. "The thing is to work with partners that want to build open stack infrastructure as a service model."

This is the type of thinking that will allow companies to react to market conditions and not have to wait to build an infrastructure. During the General Session panel, "Cable's Cloud Forecast," Mark Muehl, SVP of product engineering for Comcast, noted that during the last Olympics, his company was able to work with NBC Universal, which developed some specific apps to be delivered on set-top boxes. This was only possible because the cloud architecture allowed them to scale the resources as need required, Muehl said.

"(You) can stand up (a service) and tear it down, and the resources go back into the pool," Werner said. "With a legacy system, there is no way possible to do something just for the Olympics."

Get the Broadband Technology Report Newsletters Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to email newsletters today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • Video Technology
  • Network Technology
  • Technology Alerts
  • BTR LATAM (Latin America)

SCTE-Cable Tec Expo 2016 Video Show Dailies

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 3

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 3

In our Video Show Daily for Day 3 of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy covers trends in distrib...

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 2

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 2

In our Video Show Daily for the second day of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy highlights furt...

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 1

BTR's SCTE-Cable Tec Expo Video Show Daily, Day 1

BTR Editorial Director Stephen Hardy reviews the hot technologies and announcements from the first day of exhibits at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016 in P...

Diamond Technology Reviews - 2016 High Scores

2016 Diamond Technology Reviews Slideshow

2016 Diamond Technology Reviews Slideshow

Diamond Technology Reviews 2016

Diamond Technology Reviews 2016

BTR's Diamond Technology Reviews, now in its twelfth year, is a technology recognition program wherein vendors serving the broadband cable ...

Related Articles

Fitch Ratings

Fitch: Video Disruption Favors Content Owners

October 13, 2016

According to Wall Street analyst firm Fitch Ratings, increasingly fragme...

Number of screens per U.S. broadband household

As Screens Multiply, Home Networks Evolve

October 13, 2016

According to the Diffusion Group, the number of video-capable screens is...


2016 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Wrap Up

Whether you couldn't make it to Cable-Tec this year or want to see if you missed anything while you were there, you'll want to join BTR editors Stephen Hardy and Ron Hendrickson as they reveal their picks for the...

October 12, 2016
Sponsored by

Counting the cost: Efficiently transitioning from HFC to FTTH

HFC networks are uniquely positioned to provide compelling and competitive services, and are also uniquely positioned to transition to symmetrical FTTH as commercial requirements demand.  This webinar will d...

Date:September 22, 2016
Sponsored by

Maintaining High Quality of Experience in an Adaptive Bitrate System

This webinar will look at the many points in an ABR system where the video is touched.  From ingest (satellite, file, and IP), to egress, each point should be qualified for compliance to help maintain a high...

Date:August 25, 2016
Sponsored by

White Papers & Special Reports

Cable VoIP 2.0: Voice Moves to the Cloud

October 2016

Cable providers led the charge on the VoIP evolution and won customers and market share. Now voice networks are evolving again. The cloud voice platform has ...

Understanding Ultra High Definition Television

October 2016

Over the last 10 years, high definition television (HDTV) has been replacing standard definition television as the expected viewing format for television pro...

Are You Ready for DOCSIS 3.1? The Future of Cable Technology and How to Prepare Your Network

October 2016

DOCSIS 3.1 promises 10x capacity throughput and a range of technical benefits for cable providers and users alike. Are you ready? Discover the technical adva...

BTR Blogs

BTR Managing Editor Ron Hendrickson

FCC Rethinks Set-Top Plan

September 10, 2016

By Ron Hendrickson - The FCC has reworked the "unlock the set-top b...


In Memoriam: Richard Covell

August 18, 2016

By Rob Stuehrk, Publisher - We at Broadband Technology Report were sadde...

BTR Managing Editor Ron Hendrickson

Court Overturns FCC Municipal Broadband Order

August 11, 2016

By Ron Hendrickson - You win some, and you lose some, and the FCC just l...

Featured Hangouts

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K/UltraHD video is coming - consumers are buying the TV sets, and more content is becoming available. Watch this inf...

DOCSIS 3.1: A Look Ahead

DOCSIS 3.1: A Look Ahead

Watch a 30-minute video chat of experts from a variety of related disciplines discuss how close deployments really ar...

Featured Hangout

4K 4 U: How to Prepare for UltraHD Video

4K/UltraHD video is coming - consumers are buying the TV sets, and more content is becoming available. Watch this informative Hangout on demand by clicking the link above.

Sponsored by Verimatrix.