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CableLabs Taps Lookabaugh to Head Up R&D

Cable Tech Vet Once Ran PolyCipher, the MSO-Backed Downloadable Security Joint Venture 5/13/2013 7:05 AM Eastern

Cable engineering vet Tom Lookabaugh has been named executive vice president of R&D at CableLabs, where he will focus on platforms that enable high-speed access and next-gen services.

Lookabaugh is joining Louisville, Colo.-based CableLabs on June 10, according to a spokeswoman. He’s coming on board following a career with a variety of technology companies and joint ventures, including several that focused on cable.

Lookabaugh most recently served as vice president of the commercial mobility arm of ViaSat Communications, and was the chief technology officer of Entropic Communications, a firm that develops silicon for set-tops and gateways, including chips that use the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) platform.

Lookabaugh also served as CEO of PolyCipher LLC, a once high-profile joint venture formed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications in mid-2004 that was tasked with developing a downloadable conditional access system (DCAS). CableLabs took control of the PolyCipher DCAS project in 2009, and the potential CableCard successor has essentially been on the backburner ever since. 

PolyCipher’s vision, which called for an architecture that relied on a secure microprocessor, never got deployed, but interest in downloadable security is now heightened as two major U.S. cable MSOs – Cablevision Systems and Charter Communications – expand their downloadable platforms or get such systems off the ground. Cablevision has already deployed its version, and Charter recently secured a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that will allow the MSO to deploy dual-security set-tops that use an integrated version of its conditional access platform alongside the new downloadable platform.

Lookabaugh also co-founded DiviCom, a digital video compression and technology division of C-Cube microsystems that was acquired by Harmonic in 2000 for $1.7 billion.

"I am eager to lead, mentor and collaborate with the engineering and research teams at CableLabs," said Lookabaugh, in a statement. "This organization is the catalyst for cable innovation. I am looking forward to applying my past experiences and expertise to help advance its mission.”

"Lookabaugh’s strong industry relationships and his pioneering work in the technology industry will be great assets to our team," said CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney, who took the helm of the organization on June 1, 2012, in a statement "We are certain he will have a significant impact on CableLabs’ R&D efforts helping us to deliver what’s next for cable.” 

Lookabaugh earned his Ph.D. and three master’s degrees at Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree at Colorado School of Mines.

CableLabs said the search for Lookabaugh’s position was conducted by Bialla & Associates Partner David Archambault.

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