Cable-Tec Expo: What’s New?

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In the weeks heading into the show, Cable-Tec Expo was in line to draw about 400 exhibitors, including 55 that are new to the confab.

Despite the ongoing consolidation of the industry, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) said attendance this year is “on plan” as registration activity started to accelerate around the Labor Day weekend.  Last year’s event in New Orleans drew more than8,600 attendees, thanks in part to growing international attendance, which surpassed about 1,100, and about 66 exhibitors that were new to Expo.

Multichannel News technology editor recently checked in with Mark Dzuban, president and CEO of SCTE and ISBE, its international arm, to discuss what’s new at this year’s show and what he believes will be the hot topics in Philadelphia. An edited transcript follows.

Multichannel News: What's going to be new and different at this year's show? 

Mark Dzuban: Under the premise of "Innovation Meets Here," there's been a lot of thinking by this team. The Innovation Theater is going to kind of twist on some of the things we've done.

We'll also be making an announcement on a next-generation educational system that is very high tech using the most current science of the transfer of knowledge.

We brought on Reni Gorman [as vice president, learning and development]. Her background is from Columbia University on cognitive studies -- how the brain thinks. If you look at military avionics, aerospace and how they develop senior folks that are responsible for not just very expensive but also very critical weapon systems and network reliabilities from a military perspective -- using very similar science in this new program that we're going to be announcing. 

MCN: What is the Innovation Theater going to be about? 

MD: Innovation Theater [at 4,500 square feet] is for industry trends, announcements and new technologies discussion. You're going to see a constant set of presentations around key initiatives in our industry. It's a focal point for new thinking in the Innovation Theater. 

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MCN: Topic-wise, what do you see as the big drivers this year? It seems like DOCSIS 3.1 and wireless technologies are two big ones that come to mind. 

MD: There's a load of workshops. Certainly, the early  DOCSIS 3.1 deployments around what was learned...that's a big deal. We have some good presentations by the senior folks deploying it. 

Another is fiber access architecture strategies, which are driving fiber deeper. That's terribly important as we continue to reduce fiber node sizes and improve customer experience. Fiber deployment considerations -- that's driven by the competitive environment and how we have a leadership edge on our science in the field. 

IoT [Internet of Things] and IoT services, that's interesting because you see a lot of new applications. And the power of color – a lot of enhancements to video we're doing to [improve] the experience. 

Maintenance and testing in an SDN world -- think of the software-defined networks and how they evolve with the current physical plant...into a software domain that is going to be much more agile.

And SDN and NFV (network functions virtualization) -- continuing to look at elements within the network and what that looks like from an access perspective. Access is the largest component of our plant, so how software-defined networks virtualize some of the outside facilities will be a big deal.

And there’s also the access technology around energy. There are a lot of benefits about energy that people don't realize. As you manage your energy efficiently, the core temperatures get reduced and you generally improve your network reliability and mean time between failures. There are all kinds of economic benefits and network reliability benefits that come from energy management. 

MCN: If you had to boil it down, what's the biggest challenge that your constituents fact today? Is it about competition or enabling the workforce for the future? 

MD: Every year, it's about: What do we need to tackle? It may not be the same topics as the previous year. But it's about being agile -- how do we support our industry in a dynamic market where the threats change, how do we invest our capital? Five year plans get modified. How do we adopt the way that we do business to constantly compete in a very agile and focused way?

The value of SCTE and what we do, I think, is becoming crisper. We're working hard to show the value [such as] some of the things we're doing around training. Training component has a direct correlation with my CTO and CFO discussions -- how do you correlate all the work you do to get business results. We're driving both workforce and technology from an applied science perspective.