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Cable Delivery of Broadband-Enabled Interactive Applications

Consulting Experience

System Dynamics advised a cable operator in planning and implementing high-speed data delivery over one of the nation’s largest cable systems. Participating as members of their team, we provided comprehensive assistance – first in initiating a pilot test, and subsequently in preparing for a full-scale launch in conjunction with a system rebuild. Our tasks included target market and application selection, market research, end-to-end system definition, technology and vendor selection, business case preparation, competitive analysis, and project planning and tracking.

For a cable system operator considering the migration to digital cable, we developed the complete business case and technical plan for digital services, including video on demand. We developed the end-to-end architecture and led the vendor selection for digital migration, including the digital headend, basic and advanced set-top boxes, and VOD.

For a cable system operator considering the introduction of telephone services, we analyzed the timing, costs and economic returns of circuit- and packet-switched telephony over cable; examined cable plant readiness and requirements for primary telephony; and explored potential alliances.

For a prospective cable modem vendor, we created an economic model of a cable operator offering data services. We projected revenues from business and residential services, and associated start-up and operating costs. Our client successfully entered the cable modem business, using our analyses as a marketing tool.

For a major information-technology company, we assessed the highest potential opportunities in the cable industry. We developed a model to project market growth, application adoption rates, and technology costs over time; and developed recommendations on target market segments and applications.

To assist in resource allocation decisions for top management of a major computer company, we assessed market readiness of telephone companies and cable operators for deployment of high-bandwidth interactive services.

For a major computer company, we analyzed the technology value chain for high-speed data over cable and the positioning of existing and potential partners and competitors. We recommended changes in partnering roles and relationships.

Earlier Cable-Related Experience

As Executive Director of Technology, Dave Waks led Prodigy’s efforts to focus the cable industry on the PC platform for broadband interactive services.

  • Beginning in 1986, set up a cable infrastructure in Prodigy's laboratory to explore the interaction of cable modem technologies with online services. Installed and tested each cable modem technology as it came to market.
  • Starting with Cox Cable in 1993, initiated and organized five trials of Prodigy over cable - the first customer trials of broadband-enable interactive services.
  • External point person in all Prodigy discussions with cable technology suppliers and operators
  • At CableNet 94, demonstrated combination of server-based streaming video with online services delivered over cable.
  • Delivered many invited presentations at National and Western Cable Shows.

Decision Factors for the Cable Operator

Cable operators considering the deployment of high-speed data services need to consider a complex set of decision factors, including

  • Markets and Opportunities: Target markets, applications (now and future), content, customer needs and expectations, willingness to pay, competition
  • Technology: Capabilities and costs over time, standards, lifetime costs, evaluation of technology choices to target markets and applications, technology trials, end-to-end system architecture and component selection
  • Business Decisions: Core competencies, partners and alliances, revenues by market and application, capital and operating costs, cash flow and profit
  • Implementation Planning: Vendor selection, scope and timing of market research, market trials, operating procedures, staffing, plant preparation and acceptance testing

Elements of a Complete Cable Data System

Cable modems are only a small part of a complete cable data system. Broadband-enabled interactive applications require a complete end-to-end system composed of many elements – assembled either by the cable operator or by suitable partners and vendors.

The major elements required in a complete system are shown in the following diagram:

cabledatasystem.gif (17437 bytes)

Cable-Related Presentations at Conferences and Workshops

We have given many presentations at cable-related conferences and for major industry organizations.

  • We have given many presentations for the staff and member companies of CableLabs, both at CableLabs headquarters and at its conferences. An example is a half-day session on "New Internet and Data Services for the Cable Industry" focused on revenue opportunities from the Small Office/Home Office/Telecommuter (SOHOT) market and from voice and video communications, and their implications for emerging cable modem standards.
  • At a workshop preceding Cable 96, we delivered a presentation on High-Potential Data Services to an audience of cable operators. Our presentation focused on opportunities for developing profitable services, and was featured in an article in CableWorld.
See our Presentations page for other recent presentations.