Nick Fielibert CTO SP Video at Cisco Systems speaks to us about technology differentiation, virtualization and Net Neutrality.
As chief technical officer for SP video in the EMEAR for Cisco, Nick Fielibert is responsible for developing and directing the technical roadmap and the systems architectures for Cisco’s video solutions to service providers in the region.
Q. How is cable using technology to differentiate itself in the marketplace?
Cable operators leveraging DOCSIS 3.0 are the only Service Providers able to provide broadband speeds above 100 Mbps today and even 1 Gbps over 100% of their access networks serving millions of subscribers in Europe. Cable is also the only network that can still leverage very cost effective pure Broadcast with Unicast for personalized and advanced video services. In particular, DOCSIS 3 evolving to DOCSIS 3.1 now makes migration to Unicast video over IP economical, reducing OpEx and CapEx for such new advanced video services.
The adoption of cloud technology is also particularly important for reducing OpEx and time to market associated with new services. When applications are created for the cloud (on- or off-premise), feature development time is greatly reduced and the risk of long lasting error situations is mitigated: new applications and bug-fixes can immediately be propagated to millions of Home Devices. Last but not least we see some Cable operators leveraging the success of selling triple-play services over their plant to upsell mobile and B2B services.
Q. From a technology standpoint, what do you think cable’s priorities are for 2015 and beyond?
We are seeing Cable further investing in keeping the lead on broadband speeds, but also aiming to create the service velocity for TV services similar to OTT (Netflix etc.). We believe they should also prepare the access network for introduction of DOCSIS 3.1 during 2015, with rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 during 2016 and beyond.
Q. What innovative projects is Cisco working on now, for example on cable technology virtualization?
We believe virtualization will help cable in various aspects, both on the access and network side, as well as on the video services side. There is a path for virtualization of CCAP, by building as a foundation a distributed cable access architecture based on Remote PHY. With the move to Remote PHY, cable operators can have distributed PHY elements (chassis or nodes) that connect the access network and are controlled by CCAP Core elements. The CCAP Core elements can run as virtualized software entities in a Data Center. We are also making strong investments on bringing SDN capabilities to our CCAP platforms. We believe that Remote PHY, SDN and NFV are among the top disrupting architecture transitions that the Cable industry will face on the coming years.
For video services, virtualization will make the development of services more scalable and reduce OpEx. For example, adding new channels that can be delivered to any device should be not more than using a simple orchestration console, which launches VMs to create a complete workflow to create streams in any format, servicing any type of device. Increased use of virtualised software-based encoding will also greatly simplify the introduction of new codec technologies such as HEVC, or starting services in 4K resolution. The same principles will also apply to adding subscribers to a system, creating additional business rules and product offers. Cable operators have also understood that User Experience is a key competitive element and business driver for growth. UX is one of the key offerings we have and we continue to invest to make the deployment of the best possible User Experience on all possible screens easier going forward. Last but not least, we keep investing in keeping content secure, so Cable will be able to get the best deals with their content providers
Q. Tell us more about how you work with cable operators and the rest of the cable tech community.
We have a permanent dialog with cable operators and the rest of the cable tech community to make sure that we develop products and solutions that fulfil their business needs. As part of that effort, Cisco is an active contributor to CableLabs and to European cable community entities like the Cable Congress, listening and sharing our thoughts about how the cable technology and business will evolve.
Q. What is Cisco’s take on Net Neutrality and where do you think policymakers need to net out to ensure continued investment in broadband build out?
In general in we think Net Neutrality is a good thing and are supportive of this, but we also believe differentiated services should be possible and that a Service Provider should be allowed to manage traffic on the network to enhance certain services. This will enable better service to be offered to subscribers, and potentially lead to higher revenues. If done well and sensitively, there is no reason that this should be at the expense of general internet access.
Q. Cable is a technology leader, but is there an area where cable must be better and what will it take to do so?
Indeed Cable is often in the forefront of technical innovation. However, we feel there are some areas were faster evolution/development may be required:
- Accelerate its integration with mobile and B2B offers.
- Accelerate the transition into video solutions that are fully IP-based, as these solutions allow cable operators to provide seamlessly the same services across HFC or FTTH.
- Embrace new client SW and Cloud technologies that allow for faster and cheaper introduction of new services. The current development cycle of deploying new Hardware (new STBs) in the field takes too long. There is a risk Cable will start lagging in services innovation against Telco and new OTT competitors.