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Comcast’s Burke Stresses Video Reliability

7/04/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Comcast chief operating officer Steve Burke said the nation’s biggest cable company is increasingly focused on eliminating errors in video transmission, to cut down the number of customer complaints.

Burke, speaking on the opening CEO panel June 25 here at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ Cable-Tec Expo conference, said Comcast is “laser-focused” on video reliability.

“The breakdown in customer service is not [that representatives are not] answering the phones within 30 seconds — we do that pretty well,” he said. “It’s reliability. It’s taking away the root cause of those phone calls. … We have too many error rates and too many issues.”

Comcast receives 200 million customer phone calls per year and performs tens of thousands of truck rolls, according to Burke.

With traditional video, “it used to be if you were running 98% of the time you were OK.”

Now, with more customers using services like video-on-demand, 98% uptime may translate into someone encountering a technical issue 20% of the time. Burke said the goal is to reach 99.999% reliability for the video service, a metric referred to as “five 9’s” in the telecom world.

“We have not made the progress I wish we’d made in the last two to three years,” Burke said. “We have to do better. … If we don’t have reliability, that will stop us from bringing a lot of exciting things to market.”

Vendors pitching video-quality management tools include JDSU, IneoQuest Technologies, Mixed Signals, Pixelmetrix, Symmetricom and Tektronix.

September