BTR‘s Diamond Technology Reviews, now in its eighth year, is a technology recognition program wherein vendors serving the broadband cable industry are invited to submit information about products that have been released or upgraded since last year’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo (held in November 2011). We assigned each entry to at least three of our 10 expert volunteer judges, listed in the box below. To help ensure fairness, similar products from different vendors were reviewed by the same group of panelists. Judges based scores/comments on written material provided by vendors, as well as their own experience with or knowledge of the specific technologies.
BTR’s staff played no role in the judging of the submitted products. Review panelists were informed that scores/comments would remain anonymous.
Every year the flavor of Expo reflects the current and most urgent problems facing cable operators as well as a peek at future trends. And the Diamond Technology Review entrants are a great representation of what we can expect to see on the show floor.
Competition was “intense” this go-around, said cable engineering stalwart Steve Johnson, of Johnson Telecom (formerly of Time Warner Cable).
“Products that scored 3.5 Diamonds or higher hit the mark to fill a need in the cable industry in a new or innovative way. The key concept, however, is filling a need. Being new or innovative is not enough unless the product can ease the workload, improve customer satisfaction, or improve the bottom line for operators,” said Johnson, who spearheaded the Diamonds again this year and recruited the panel – a mix of cable operator execs and engineering consultants.
One of the biggest issues for cable operators has been how to troubleshoot and qualify digital video quality, which is different than in the analog world, Johnson noted. Manufacturers, including several Diamond entrants, “step(ped) up with higher caliber tools for meeting those challenges.”
In addition, the migration to IP is on everyone’s mind, and the Diamonds accordingly saw a few products related to the delivery of video over IP. Likewise, there also were devices to help with the handoff of cellular data traffic to WiFi for transport over cable networks, Johnson noted. They aim to demonstrate the potential for operators to add or enhance a revenue stream.
What follows are the Diamonds 2012 entries designated by the judges as most worthy of the industry’s careful consideration.
Judges used the following scale to determine Diamond scores:
- 0-1 Useful product, yet commodity
- 2-3 Solid product with viable attributes that set it apart
- 4 Excellent product with technical features and performance that provide clear and substantial benefits
- 5 Superb product that sets new standards for performance and provides groundbreaking and new technical milestones
Each product’s scores were averaged and rounded to the nearest full or half Diamond. Note that products are grouped by score (with the highest Diamonds ranking first), and then in alphabetical order.
Scores of 3.5 or above are considered superlative and reflect a very positive opinion from the panel. Only products receiving 3.5 or above are included in this article.
DIAMONDS JUDGES 2012 (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
- Christopher Bowick, President, the Bowick Group
- Ron Boyer, President, Boyer Broadband
- Paul Brooks, Senior Director, Network Engineering, Time Warner Cable
- Jeff Chen, SVP Advanced Technologies, Bright House Networks
- Tony Faccia, VP Wireline Access Networks, Rogers Cable Communications
- Tom Gorman, President, opXL
- Tommy Hill, Director, Area Operations, Mediacom Communications
- Joseph Jensen, EVP/CTO, Buckeye Cable System
- Jorge Salinger, VP, Access Architecture, Comcast
- Andrew Parrott, VP Technical Operations, Suddenlink Communications