Former SCTE CTO Joins Hitachi Consulting

Daniel Howard, a cable industry vet and the former  CTO of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), has joined Hitachi Consulting in a role in which he plans to help MSOs with engineering and IT strategies spanning energy management, the rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 and cable’s growing WiFi and mobile initiatives.

Howard joins Hitachi Consulting after serving as the SCTE’s first Fellow, focusing on initiatives such as wireless, cybersecurity, DOCSIS 3.1, and the SCTE Energy 2020 program. In 2010, he was named the organization’s first chief technology officer (former Comcast and RCN engineering exec Chris Bastian was named SCTE’s new CTO late last year).

Howard joined Hitachi in mid-January as director of consulting services in its energy solutions Group, but with a foot in its communications, multimedia and entertainment group.

“I love to …take on big programs and game-changing initiative,” he said of the new role. “I had  had done a fair bit of that at SCTE,” Howard added, but believes he’ll have more opportunities to take on that kind of work at Hitachi Consulting.

Heading in, he’ll be focused on helping cable operators with their WiFi deployment strategies, noting that the company is already doing some work with a “major cable operator in the U.S.”

Notably, several U.S. MSOs have embarked on WiFi deployments, including Comcast, which last week announced it had deployed 13.3 million WiFi hotspots throughout its footprint, a number that includes quasi-public hotspots in consumer-side routers.

Another big area of focus will be energy efficiency management. Howard said Hitachi Consulting has created a model in which the company finds the technology and helps to finance, build and monitor those systems. In turn, the operator pays Hitachi Consulting a subscription fee.

A major focus there will be helping MSOs get a better fix on the energy required to power hubs, headends and outside plant, Howard said, noting that about 80% of an MSO’s energy bill originates at the edge of the network.

On the WiFi side, he said, cable has a big advantage if it decides to deploy the technology ubiquitously because amps and nodes on the HFC network are powered. “We can just pop WiFi access points all over the footprint with minimal effort.”

Competitors that use passive optical networks don’t have that same power availability. “Where they are power-limited, we [the cable industry] are loaded with power.”

That, he predicted, will enable cable to become “the premier provider of ubiquitous WiFi coverage over the coming years.”

Another area he’ll focus on is the potential for cable operators to develop infrastructure-as-a-service strategies in which they outsource network operations to partners.

Before his time with SCTE, Howard was CTO of VQLink, a video quality measurement and monitoring specialist, and was CTO of Digital Furnace, a startup that developed DOCSIS upstream-boosting capacity that was acquired by Broadcom in 2000. He also co-authored the DOCSIS 1.1 and 2.0 specs, and was a lead inventor on Broadcom’s primary DOCSIS 3.0 patent.  Howard is also late of  Georgia Tech Research Institute (as a senior research engineer), Quadrock Communications (president and CEO), and Motorola (systems architect).