SCTE, MSOs Outline ‘Energy 2020’ Goals

Cutting Unit Power Consumption, Grid Dependency Make List

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and several cable operators have outlined a preliminary set of goals for “Energy 2020,” an initiative that aims to cut down energy costs and energy consumption by the end of the decade through use of new standards, innovations, and best practices.

Energy 2020, a multi-year campaign spawned by the SCTE Energy Management program, has set out the following goals for the program: 

-Reduce power consumption by 20% on a unit basis;

-Reduce energy costs by 25% on a unit basis;

-Reduce “grid dependency” by 10%;

-Optimize technical facilities and datacenters footprint by 20%; and,

-Establish vendor partnerships that will impact hardware development by the end of the decade.

“Units,” in this case, are largely measured on a chassis-basis, said SCTE CEO Mark Dzuban, adding that another evolving metric being looked at is the idea of measuring power on a terabit-per-watt basis.

The program has also identified 12 primary initiatives across five categories – facilities, plant, operations, technology and marketing/regulatory. SCTE Standards Program members will work directly with operator teams on an eight-step process that will take each initiative from concept through completion.

The SCTE and the SCTE Energy Management “stakeholder” cable operators said they will unveil more detail about the program during a special session at this year’s SCTE Cable Tec, set for September 22-25 in Denver.

Those stakeholders, Dzuban noted, will have an equal say in how the program is designed and implemented. Operators that are currently stakeholders in the Energy 2020 program include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Bend Broadband (in the process of being acquired by Telephone and Data Systems, Rogers Communications, Suddenlink Communications and Buckeye CableSystem.

Vendors will also be encouraged to join the mix and help to drive the protocols, business cases and standards that will emerge from the program.

“Vendors will need to take this seriously because they [the energy-focused standards] will be in purchase agreements,” Dzuban said.

Arris, Cisco, Intel, and Broadcom are among dozens of suppliers that, as SCTE standards members, are expected to play roles in the Energy 2020 initiative.

“Ensuring both the availability and the efficient use of energy for cable’s needs are operational and financial imperatives,” said John Schanz, chief network officer and executive vice president of Comcast Cable, in a statement. “Vendors and operators who participate in the SCTE Standards Program will play pivotal roles in how Energy 2020 shapes future equipment designs and purchases that will help direct our industry’s energy requirements.”

“As cable enters the implementation phase of energy management, our goals are sharply defined: increasing availability, reliability and efficient use of energy supplies, as well as decreasing our impact on the surrounding environment,” added Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Time Warner Cable and chair of the SCTE Standards Program’s Sustainability Management Subcommittee (SMS).

The Energy 2020 program incorporates initial work by SCTE’s Smart Energy Management Initiative (SEMI). In a keynote at the SEMI Forum in 2012 in Philadelphia, Mark Coblitz, the now-retired former SVP of strategic planning at Comcast, stressed that cable operators and their partners must act now to reduce power consumption or face a future in which the industry's needs outstrip supply.

"As we project consumer demand for our services in the future, we see an impending risk several years down the road -- the possibility that, without taking some important steps, we cannot always be assured of a sufficient and reliable supply of locally available power," Coblitz remarked at the time.