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Cable Europe Labs: “The cool thing about IP migration is that it will be done a little bit at a time”

Peter Percosan, MD of Cable Europe Labs

Peter Percosan, MD of Cable Europe Labs

Peter Percosan, Managing Director of Cable Europe Labs, on the business case for ultra-high speed broadband, the need for cable operators to focus on the basics such as customer support and service reliability, and the services IP cable operators could deliver from the cloud in the future.

Is there a business case for cable operators to providing 300 Mbit/s downstream and 60 Mbit/s upstream speeds? Do the services exist which require 300 Mbit/s downstream and 60 Mbit/s upstream speeds?

It is never wise to scale a network based on our ability to exactly predict the future – just ask Bill Gates. The short answer is that “Commercial Services” is a business case today for very high-speed networks (such as 300/60). This business segment is very important to the cable industry.

As for the consumer segment, it is less clear. Many analysts have been “done the math” and found that homes with multiple HD televisions, tablets, smart phones, computers etc have a peak unicast usage of ~120 Mb/s in the downstream.

Given the improvements in video compression technology, one could argue that this number stays flat (does not reduce because you could also argue an increase in active devices).

I am not aware of any services that benefit from this type of service … Yet. For the record, Zon TV Cabo in Portugal does offer a 360/24 service today … I’m not sure how many consumers have signed up for it though.

How can IP cable operators differentiate themselves against fibre-to-the-home IPTV operators? Why should consumers choose cable TV over telco-provided IPTV?

First, it is not IP that differentiates competitors. My answer is not sexy. What wins the day will be great customer support, service reliability, relevant product bundles, close attention to consumer trends.

What does this mean?

Service reliability: high-quality picture quality to every screen. Great internet speeds to every device (this includes a big effort to improve “off the shelf” WiFi quality).

Product bundles: great video choice (packages, sports, etc), Internet Access and telephony … At the right value for money.

Trends: this is an easy one. Our customers vote with their behaviour and their spend. One simple example is that they are buying the coolest new IP connected toys and prefer to consume much of our product (or product that *looks* like what we sell) on these new devices. We need to continually innovate to support this trend.

Another less obvious trend is that they may prefer new ways to navigate and discover content. We should do the best we can to provide compelling products… But perhaps we also need to find ways to embrace niche approaches. We are seeing the early stages of this in the US at Time Warner Cable.

By telco, I assume you mean “non-FTTH”. This answer is easy. As a home’s peak consumption grows towards 100 Mb/s or higher, all flavours of telco IP connectivity will be insufficient. Even on the less extreme case, more and more TV viewing is HD. Even considering only one live TV stream, the Internet access product is severely impacted.

What services could IP cable operators provide from the cloud in the future? Where do you see Cable Europe Labs’ work in this area heading?

Most of what cable operators do is “in the cloud”. Going forward there are many services (new and old) that will benefit from being located in the network… This is the classic computer science question of centralised versus distributed.

Cable Europe Labs’ focus will be on working with our members to ensure that the right standards are in place to simplify service deployment and achieve the necessary scale to make these services available.

IP migration requires significant investment for smaller operators – do you see IP resulting in greater consolidation of the European cable industry? Is this a good thing?

The cool thing about IP migration is that it will be done a little bit at a time. What I mean is that cable operators will reassign DVB-C channels currently dedicated to broadcast television to support new video (or other IP-based) products. This can be done with as little as one channel or as many as all channels.

Peter will be speaking at the IP Cable World Summit 2012 event taking place in Berlin, Germany on 27th-28th November. For more information and to register, please visit http://ip-cable.net/

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