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CableLabs, YAS Will Part Ways

It looks like Cable Television Laboratories Inc. and YAS Broadband Ventures will be parting ways by year-end.

The cable technology consortium said it will take over the projects it has farmed out to YAS, a consultancy led by cable-modem pioneer Rouzbeh Yassini.

But CableLabs president and CEO Richard Green downplayed the change, noting that the Louisville, Colo.-based consortium and YAS have planned the transition for some time.

"The idea is to convert those positions that are now in [Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification] or broadband access to CableLabs positions," Green said.

It isn't an unfamiliar pattern. YAS consultants also oversaw the early development of DOCSIS 1.0, and that work was eventually handed off to CableLabs' technical staff.

At the end of each year, CableLabs has reviewed YAS's role and when to transition projects to the consortium's staff, Green noted.

Yassini has eight employees assigned to CableLabs: Doug Jones, Jorge Salinger, Nancy Daboust, Roger McGee, Frank Wimler, John Vezilacqua, Liz Weeks and Pam Yassini.

One factor behind the decision was the plentiful supply of expertise in the job market right now — the result of a harsh year of layoffs in telecommunications.

"It's unfortunate for the industry, but, on the other hand, the labor market has been providing the kind of people we need to fill these roles," Green said. "But it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to replace the YAS team exactly."

The transition will likely be complete by the end of 2003, ensuring time to find the staff to take over the work from YAS consultants. The YAS consultants aren't likely to become permanent CableLabs staffers.

"As far as what happens with the YAS team, it's [Yassini's] team, and he wants to keep them together," Green said.

YAS has consulting, venture and charity efforts elsewhere, and after turning over its duties to CableLabs, the company will "continue to support the cable industry directly worldwide by working directly with operators, as we have done in the past, as we are doing now and as we will do in the future," Yassini said.

The consultancy also can take the specification-development model it helped create at CableLabs and offer it to other industries, he added.

"We look at this type of win-win scenario and win-win execution as a good success story that should be an example of what industry should be more and more," Yassini said. "So we don't look at it as something that came to an end. We look it as something accomplished and the transition will be well-managed going forward by CableLabs."