Operators Will Change. The Key is Doing it Gracefully

Cable engineers know by now that the way in which they serve customers is radically changing. They also understand that the timeframe and exact dynamics of those transitions always are impossible to predict. This means that systems must be able to change on t...

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By Carl Weinschenk, Senior Editor

Cable engineers know by now that the way in which they serve customers is radically changing. They also understand that the timeframe and exact dynamics of those transitions always are impossible to predict.



This means that systems must be able to change on the fly. For example, Charter President and CEO Michael Lovett, in a public interview March 3 at the Morgan Stanley Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, said that the plan is to entice dialup users in its footprint to upgrade to a low-level metered tier. Lovett also said that Charter is doing quite well in the home networking business.

The other change is in Canada, where Shaw has introduced The Shaw Plan Personalizer, which couples $5, $10 or $15 theme programming packages with several broadband options, a WiFi option and phone services.

These items are not new, though the use of metering to upsell from the dial-up pool is not as common as the use of the technique to rein in bandwidth hogs. Consider, however, what this means to the two engineering staffs: One has to figure out how to integrate metering at the higher and lower level and how to provide home networking services without the subscriber opening their cyber front door being the same as opening a cyber Pandora’s Box.

At the end of the day, engineering will be called upon, in conjunction with billing and marketing departments, to make all these new services and offerings happen. The fact that such new services are difficult or outside folks’ comfort zone will not impress C-level executives. The secret to maintaining profitability (and sanity) is to create efficient platforms.

It is possible to cobble together any number of services. But doing so that makes sense in the long term, and in a way that can gradually built upon without constantly reinventing the wheel, requires great communications between different parts of the organization and a tremendous amount of integration at the operational level.

Just about everyone in telecom acknowledges that the world is changing. At the highest level, cable engineers must work to put in place robust systems that can accommodate these changes gracefully.

Carl Weinschenk is a reporter at BTR. Reach him at carl@broadbandtechreport.com

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