As a cable veteran myself, I’m proud to write this blog congratulating Ron Hranac on 46 years of contributions to the cable industry.
If you’re in cable, I’m betting you know Ron and his passion and love of the business. From humble beginnings of practically falling into the industry as a part-time camera operator at a local cable company in 1972 while he was still in school to the prestigious honor of being SCTE’s first Chairman of the Board, Ron has a lifetime of accomplishments and accolades.
Ron first joined the Society of Cable Television Engineers (now the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers) in 1979. From that time forward, he has held multiple influential roles within the organization and is a Fellow member of the society. In 1987, he became the first person in the cable industry to be certified in SCTE•ISBE’s Broadband Communications Technician (BCT) and Broadband Communications Engineer (BCE) programs. Ron was also the first American to be elected an Honorary Fellow in the U.K. SCTE, the highest grade of membership in that organization.
Ron’s industry activities include the publication of hundreds of articles and papers, and he is past chairman of an NCTA ad hoc subcommittee to research 75-ohm traceability at the then National Bureau of Standards. In 1997, he was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers and was named among the cable industry’s 100 most influential people in both the 1998 and 1999 Western Cable Show issues of “CableFAX Magazine.” In 2011, Ron was among the inaugural inductees into “Communications Technology” magazine’s Hall of Fame (he’s also an inductee in SCTE’s Hall of Fame). As you can imagine, with 46 years in the industry, the list of his accomplishments and contributions is much too substantial to be captured in one blog.
He has witnessed and been directly or indirectly involved in some of cable’s key transitions. Some that he considers major breakthroughs leading the industry forward include:
- Multichannel amplitude modulated link (AML) microwave. Hughes Aircraft (in a partnership with TelePrompTer called Theta Corp.) introduced this to the cable industry; it pre-dated optical fiber for breaking up long amplifier cascades.
- The introduction of satellite communications for transmission of cable programming across the country in 1975 when HBO became the first program service to transmit programming via satellite to cable systems.
- The introduction of AM optical fiber technology for local distribution of signals in cable networks starting in the late 1980s, marking the beginning of what we now call “HFC.”
- DOCSIS cable modem technology. DOCSIS came about in the late 1990s and provided a definition of interoperability between modems and CMTSs.
But, when you ask Ron what the best part of his career has been, he answers with “the people.”
“When I joined the industry back in the early ‘70s, I was very fortunate to work with colleagues who had been in that cable system up in northern Idaho since it was built in 1953. They were really, really good about being willing to share their knowledge. And I’ve followed their example over the years, and the example of a lot of other people like that who have been willing to share what they know. And, I’ve tried to do that throughout my career. In doing so, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet a whole lot of just fantastic people over the years. Without a doubt, the people part is absolutely the best part. A close number two is the constant change in technology.”
– Ron Hranac
His advice for a newcomer to the cable industry is to ask questions, lots and lots of questions. It doesn’t matter if it’s the technical side or marketing or operations. Learn as much as you can, and a key piece to that – share what you know with others. And, have fun! There is so much opportunity to learn in this industry and be part of the ongoing changes in technology – just have fun and keep doing so.
Ron says he has no intentions of retiring any time soon, and I’m certainly glad to hear it. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Ron when you see him at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, Cisco booth #1603 next week. He is an industry legend, and we’re certainly lucky to have him on our team at Cisco!