Yes, that word was ringing through my mind as I left New Orleans, the city where the 2015 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo drew to its conclusion on Friday, October 16th.
Ok, the conference is always about technologies: new trends, new tools, and new deployments. For an expo that has its hallmark in the cable industry, you would expect DOCSIS 3.1 or distribute and centralized CCAP chassis to dominate the themes of the event. And yes, they did indeed, with educational and informational workshops about the trials now and the plans for the coming year when real-world deployments start. It’s about bandwidth; DOCSIS 3.1 will unleash gigabit speeds of bandwidth that both you and I will get to enjoy.
All of these are happening, and they’re happening at an exponential rate of speed. As the CEO of CableLabs, Phil McKinney, opined, “It’s exponential. Exponential technologies, exponential memory storage (growth)…”
So, technologies are progressing exponentially.
But that’s not the only reason why the word stuck with me. It started with technologies, but it didn’t (and shouldn’t) end there.
It’s about what these technologies can and will enable — service providers being able to deliver services faster than ever. More personalized services, flexible packages, and targeted value-added features. Service velocity is exponentially improved.
It is exponential because of the proliferation of consumer IP-enabled devices; it is exponential because of the access these devices are able to get; it is exponential because of the information we, as consumers, can access in the speed of a single click — thanks to the broadband network speed, mobility, and to a large degree, Google search. Ubiquity and ease of use continues to spur more usage.
And all of these factors will create new consumer expectations — the seamless experience as a user moves from one device to another, or from one screen to the next. That ubiquitous access to information where and when you want it. To compete for consumers’ information and entertainment dollar spend, service providers have to deliver superior service quality, personalize the user experience, and offer value-added services when and where the consumer wants them.
Speaking of value-added services, operators are searching for the next big thing (as always). Again, it is not about technology –it’s about what technology enables. There is a lot of talk about virtualization — or network function virtualization (NFV), to be specific. People forget it’s not the technology; the driver of this innovation lies in the service velocity, pushing out services at exponential rates with ease.
NFV simplifies firmware management, enabling device updates on a grand scale regardless of the vendor, or the brand or model of the device. This replaces cumbersome manual updates. Network management functions and orchestration are being moved to the cloud, allowing device management to happen at a larger scale with greater accuracy. Service updates can happen without having to tweak each individual device. The functions traditionally performed at the individual customer-premise-device level are moving to the cloud. This simplifies life for an operator, driving down operational costs. It also simplifies life for consumers, who don’t have to go through the aggravation of dealing with device changes and updates or upgrades that impact their services. So virtualization is not about technology, it’s about the consumer experience. The rate of customer experience improvement is growing, exponentially.
If you’re still unsure of how NFV can improve the customer experience, or if the concept of virtualization is still a bit confusing, Incognito Software Systems, in collaboration with the Wiley Brand, published a basic virtual CPE handbook dubbed vCPE for Dummies. It’s an easy read for anyone to get to the nuts and bolts of what vCPE is, what it is for, and how to deploy it.
Author: William L. Yan, COO of Incognito
October 22, 2015