SCTE Cable-Tec Expo set for wireless focus, programming chair Stakic says

This year's Cable-Tec Expo is being held in Philadelphia Sept. 26-29. (Credit: Pixabay)
Editor's Corner Dan Frankel

Stepping in last minute for Comcast’s John Schanz, Shaw Communications CTO Zoran Stakic doesn’t know if he’s the first Canadian to program chair the SCTE’s annual Cable-Tec Expo, which will kick off next week in Philadelphia. 

But with his company, and rivals including Rogers Communications, already well established in the wireless business, he suspects his Great White Northern influence will be an asset for a U.S. cable business now officially moving in a wireless direction.

“I think with the Canadian companies, there’s a difference in how we approach wireless,” he said. “It comes down to the mix of assets each company owns. And I think that of the Canadian companies — the top four or top five — all have ability to aim at fully converged network.”

Indeed, Stakic is programming a Cable-Tec Expo just as Comcast finally revealed a launch date for its highly anticipated wireless service, which it said will be deployed by mid-2017.

It’s not surprising, then, that the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers chose Nokia CTO Marcus Weldon to kick off their event with a Tuesday-morning keynote. When was the last time -- or first time, for that matter -- that the chief engineer for a key wireless vendor kicked off SCTE?

For his part, Stakic will also be leading the Tuesday-afternoon session “Wireless: Going Beyond Wi-Fi,” which will feature David Wright, advanced technologist for Ruckus Wireless, and Chris Richards, radio access architect for Ericsson.

“We’ll be elevating attention when it comes to wireless as part of the overall cable conversation,” Stakic added.

Of course, wireless won’t be the only buzz topic at the event. Just as it was at last year's Cable-Tec Expo, network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking will get fully vetted in panel and workshop events including Wednesday’s “Maintenance and Testing in an SDN World," featuring Cox Communications engineer Jerrimia Roark. 

The current deployment state of DOCSIS 3.1 will also be discussed in a Wednesday-morning breakfast featuring Jorge Salinger, VP of access architecture for Comcast, and Belal Hamzeh, director of network technologies for CableLabs, among other executives. 

In terms of video technologies, HDR and 4K will have a re-enthused discussion at events like Wednesday mornings “Future of TV” panel event, moderated by Comcast Innovation Labs Fellow Mark Francisco, and featuring top tech executives from Technicolor, Harmonic and Dolby. 

Stakic’s company, meanwhile, while be showing off its white-label version of Comcast’s X1 platform, FreeRange. 

“We haven’t disclosed numbers yet, but we’re very pleased with the feedback we’ve been getting so far,” Stakic said of FreeRange’s limited deployment. 

Numbers-wise, SCTE officials say registrations have been “trending fairly well,” and they expect attendance to compare favorably to 2015’s Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans, which drew around 8,600 attendees. 

FierceCable editors Daniel Frankel and Ben Munson will in Philadelphia next week, offering round-the-clock coverage of cable tech’s big event. —Daniel