The 2013 iteration of the SCTE Cable- Tec Expo returns to Atlanta this month (Oct. 21-24) after the Society of Cable Technology Engineers had to reschedule and move it (from New Orleans) to avoid a conflict with this year’s IBC Conference in Amsterdam. All of that moving and shaking required a team effort from SCTE vendor and operator members, including a big assist from host MSO Cox Communications and industry partners such as CableLabs, according to SCTE president and CEO Mark Dzuban, who discussed the upcoming event with Multichannel News technology editor Jeff Baumgartner. (For more Expo coverage, see Platforms.)
MCN: What’s going to be new and different about this year’s show?
Mark Dzuban: The DOCSIS 3.1 program in our preconference event is an exhibit of that [CableLabs partnership] template moving forward. That’s a big deal. How do you shorten the interval from the concept, to the rollout, to scale?
If you think about deploying something, it’s like building a house. You’ve got to clear the lot, do the surveys. If you’re going to accelerate, you really need to… really understand what you’re building.
MCN: The RDK (reference design kit, a pre-integrated software bundle being managed by Comcast and Time Warner Cable) is also getting a special session this year. How will that fit into the aims of the show?
MD: The concept of SCTE in the applied science role includes operations. How do you launch new applications in a competitive way to large scale and have a template? RDK actually does that because it allows us to develop applications very rapidly and do it from an industry perspective. RDK is important to us in that it’s a template that the industry is buying into and how we share that vision.
MCN: What other tech trends will emerge at the show?
MD: Software-defined networks. That’s a product of the manufacturers wanting to have a product that they can apply internationally and define the interfaces without having a physically-hardened interface. Therefore, the manufacturing of their product can be easily adapted to a whole portfolio of international interfaces or very specific product solutions that you might enable or disable in the hardware. We’re having a session on standards and we have about 10 projects underway and a lot of it is software-defined.
MCN: Despite continued consolidation, how is attendance tracking for this year’s event versus 2012? (The Orlando gathering drew 9,200, down from 10,000 in 2011 in Atlanta.)
MD: I think we’re in pretty good shape. The numbers are lining to those  numbers. We’re seeing pretty good international attendance, which is consistent around 50 to 60 countries turning out. I think people appreciate what we’re doing here [in North America] as sort of the center of gravity around learning and sharing that knowledge.
Kevin Hart (Cox Communications chief technology officer and this year’s Cable-Tec Expo program chairman) and Pat Esser (Cox president) have done a great job in a situation where we had to move from New Orleans to Atlanta. My hat’s off to them … to make sure we’ve got a very rich and well-organized Expo in Atlanta.
MCN: How about the floor? Has recent M&A activity, such as the Arris-Motorola Home merger, had an effect?
MD: We did lose the floor space of Motorola, but what we didn’t really lose is new attendees from a floor-space perspective. When I look at expositions in general and the decline, we’re not seeing that kind of decline. We’re staying pretty stable, but it’s about creating a value proposition that’s attractive and incorporating and engaging with our partners to make sure the content is optimal.