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Coffee with Shoptalk: Highlights from CTAM Summit, SCTE Expo

Contributed by Mark Palazzo, VP/GM for Cisco’s Cable Access Business Unit

On the last day of a New Orleans week that contained two major conventions - the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ (SCTE) annual Cable Tec-Expo, preceded by the Cable Television Association for Marketing’s (CTAM) Summit -- early morning shop talk requires a strong cup of coffee.

That’s what prompted this impromptu chat between me and Leslie Ellis, Multichannel News columnist and winner of the 2010 SCTE/WICT Women in Technology award.

SCTE highlights
Compared to last year, video over IP moved from early-stage talk  to deployable reality. More and more cable engineers are working on how to send linear and on-demand video services over bonded DOCSIS channels. In our booth, for instance, traffic was especially heavy around our demonstrations of video streaming to IP set-tops and wireless devices, like an iPhone.

Leslie asked me what the buzz was in our booth. My answer: “VDOC”, which is our name for Video over DOCSIS. Our new 3G60 line card solicited a lot of questions, mostly about downstream CMTS density. Our density increased to 700 downstreams in the 3G60, from 200 - an appreciable enhancement. People also seemed surprised, in a good way, about how substantially CMTS port costs have dropped over the past five years.

CTAM highlights
The cable marketers came to New Orleans earlier in the week, with somewhat parallel thoughts -- like how cable can participate in the explosion of IP-connectable devices. Also hot at CTAM: EBIF, and how it can be used to interactive-enable ads and TV shows, as well as to add IP functionalities to the legacy set-top base. Off camera, for instance, we talked about the first-ever “ITV Idol” contest for EBIF apps (Starz won).

All in, it was a long week, but a very good one. Next year, when we look back on this year’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, I’m betting we’ll be amazed at the speed by which IP technologies continue to advance in to our lives and work.

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