Celebrating Engineers Week: Jack Birnbaum, Comcast

2014-04-26 16.30.10

Jack Birnbaum, VP of Video Control and Security

As we continue to celebrate National Engineers Week, we interviewed Jack Birnbaum, VP of Video Control and Security at Comcast about his inspiration to become an engineer.  Read below for the full interview.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

  • I like to solve problems and create things.  I was always interested in figuring out how things worked.  I had always been strong in math and science and was looking for a practical way to apply those skills.  Initially, I became interested in bio-medical engineering.   I was enamored with the idea that I could create solutions that would help people improve their health.  When I was in college, this field was mostly research-oriented, so I moved to computer engineering.

What does a day in the life of an engineer at Comcast look like?

  • The day in the life of the Comcast engineer has changed much in most recent times.  These days, we work in an agile development environment.  The engineers typically start their day with a 15-minute scrum, discussing activities completed, challenges encountered and commitments for the next day.  They collaborate to assist one another to achieve the team goals.  The engineers then move off to their development work.  Many times the engineers work in team areas so there is free flow of communication and collaboration.
  • On any day, an engineer may be called upon to perform demos of their work to product and business folks.  They may also be engaged in planning and evaluation of new projects.
  • Finally, since our teams are development- and operations-oriented, our engineers are often involved in monitoring the performance of our services with the goal of improving the customer experience.  If problems occur, they are counted on to work closely with our technical field personnel to analyze and resolve system issues.
  • At Comcast, we try to create an exciting environment for our engineers.  We have challenging projects that solve complex problems at a large scale.  We have innovation programs that challenge engineers to develop new concepts, some leading to Patent awards, some leading to new products and services.  We also consciously allocate time to encourage folks to develop new ideas or learn new skills.

 How do you collaborate with ARRIS engineers to solve industry challenges? 

  • Comcast has a long-standing partnership with ARRIS in developing solutions in the video space.  We work closely together to develop new products and solutions in the ever-changing video space.  As new technologies emerge, we look to our strong partners to help us determine solutions that meet the needs, are economically feasible and can deliver service with high quality.  With ARRIS, we have a partner with expertise in technology, integration and services.  Each of these areas is key to Comcast in delivering solutions that delight our customers.

 What are the most common challenges that engineers in our industry face?

  • I think the most common challenge that we face is change.  The industry is changing with new and different competitors.  The technology is changing with innovations in processing, storage, and networking.  Our customers’ expectations are changing as well.  There is a desire for more capabilities in more places.  What used to be video delivered to the TV is now video delivered to many devices, some in the home and some out of home.  There is a need to always be connected, which creates challenges to make sure that those connections are functional and secure.  There is a need to make sure all of the video content is displayed with high quality on many new devices.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone told you when you were pursuing a career in engineering?

  • The most successful engineers are flexible.  In this field, an engineer must be able to work with ambiguity.  Problems are not provided with all of the information needed and a path to a solution.  The engineer needs to be able to work with little information, discover the real problems to solve and create solutions.  When one adds the needs of the business, the engineer must be willing to change directions very quickly and continue to push toward the best solutions for our customers and our shareholders.

Engineering Greatness

This week, we celebrate our engineers—-the makers and doers and minds who inspire our quest to Invent the Future.

In this pursuit, we work day in and day out with some of the industry’s most talented engineers, from the world’s leading service providers and programmers. This National Engineers Week, we’re featuring a few stories and their approach to engineering, because it’s these unique perspectives that enrich our own work at ARRIS.

Here’s to all the engineers who inspire great things, for our industry, around the world, and within ourselves.


Marco Aurelio Rodrigues, Globosat – Engineer

Check out our first interview below with Marco Aurelio Rodrigues, Engineer at Globosat.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

  • I think that it was my hunger for technology and constant search for solutions that service mankind.

What does a day in the life of an engineer at Globosat look like?

  • A day of an engineer life at Globosat is very busy, because we deal with a variety of technologies and systems, and most of them work interconnected or dependent on each other. We also experience different brand new technologies and products, and sometimes we work with prototypes helping the industry to develop new products.

How do you collaborate with ARRIS engineers to solve industry challenges? 

  • Our relationship with ARRIS is very open and sincere, and that is very import to development on both sides.

What are the most common challenges that engineers in our industry face?

  • For me, it is good practices of IT resources and keeping updated on what’s new in the industry.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone told you when you were pursuing a career in engineering?

  • You’ll never stop studying. Every day, you’ll find something new.

ARRIS Welcomes NBN Co to the HFC Family

Today is an important day for broadband users in Australia. NBN Co, the Government Business Enterprise that operates the National Broadband Network, selected ARRIS to design and build its next-generation Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial (HFC) broadband network. The project is set to revolutionize Australia’s broadband network by providing access to high-speed, reliable broadband services to homes and business premises across Australia.

NBN Co becomes the latest broadband company to invest significantly in HFC technology, and joins a group of industry leading companies that have HFC as the very core of the network – companies such as Comcast (US), Liberty Global (EMEA), Taiwan Broadband Communications (APAC), SK Broadband (S Korea/APAC).

The initiative involves a suite of products and services from ARRIS, including the flagship E6000TM CER along with a number of additional ARRIS product lines, including: ARRIS Access Technologies and Supplies (ATS) products (CORWave forward path transmitters and OM4100 optical receivers) and Assurance solutions for service assurance.

ARRIS Global Services was selected to counsel NBN Co during the deployment and integration phase. In addition, the Global Services team will assist NBN Co in managing and supporting its network and customers moving forward.

We look forward to working closely with NBN Co to deliver a world-class broadband service to people living and working in Australia.

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of February 9, 2015

This week, BGR highlighted four products that can help build a faster home network and included the ARRIS SURFboard® SB6141 modem on its list.

In other industry news, Multichannel News noted that, despite the growth of video-on-demand (VoD) choices from over-the-top (OTT) services, more than two-thirds of consumers say that access to cable and broadcast services are a major draw to a multichannel pay TV package, according to a recent Horowitz Research study.

Advanced Television covered forecasts from market analyst GfK that indicate that as many as 995,000 large-format 4K sets could be sold in Britain this year.

TechCrunch highlighted findings from a new Ernst & Young report that says that China, India, Russia and Mexico are the top emerging markets in terms of earning potential for online media and entertainment companies, with an expected two billion broadband connections by 2016.

Finally, Tech Hive reported that UHD content stream protections already put in place in the form of the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) 2.2 specification could potentially make 4K content consumption difficult for the average consumer.

Check back next week for the latest industry news.

  1. 4 products you can buy on Amazon that will help you build an insanely fast home network (Feb. 9) By Jacob Siegal, BGR: Building a reliable home network takes a lot of work, especially if you live in a large home with a bunch of people.
  2. Waiting for the Fat Lady to Sing (Feb. 9) By Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News: Television industry prognosticators have been all too comfortable recently predicting the inevitable end of the traditional TV industry as it faces the onslaught of new digital-on-demand technology.
  3. UK Ultra-HD could hit 1m units (Feb. 12) By Chris Forrester, Advanced Television: The forecasts for 4K/Ultra HD take-up this year have exceeded all expectations. 2014 saw around 200,000 UHD units sold in Britain (3 per cent of the market), and this year’s forecasts could see as many as 995,000 large-format 4K sets sold.
  4. China, India, Russia and Mexico Are The Top Emerging Markets For Online Media Companies, Says Ernst & Young (Feb. 10) By Catherine Shu, TechCrunch: While the U.S. still has the highest earning potential for both online media and entertainment companies, emerging markets like China, India, Russia, and Mexico are quickly catching up.
  5. 4K content protection will frustrate consumers more than pirates: Meet HDCP 2.2 (Feb. 10) By Michael Ansaldo, Tech Hive: 4K content streams are still little more than a trickle, but that’s not stopping the industry from launching a proactive defense to protect them. The crackdown comes in the form of HDCP 2.2, an overhaul of the decade-old HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) specification.

Is it Time to Upgrade My Cable Modem? What you should know about DOCSIS.

DOCSIS is a telecommunications standard that allows cable TV networks to carry high-speed DOCSISBlogImage_24Nov2014Internet broadband services. In other words, it’s one of main the reasons you can get Internet from your cable provider.

Each cable modem has DOCSIS built in that allows it to deliver Internet service to your home. Since its inception, DOCSIS has gone through a few upgrades, getting faster and faster.

Although some may still have a DOCSIS 2.0 modem, today’s current standard is DOCSIS 3.0, and DOCSIS 3.1 is on the way.DOCSIS 3.0 represents a significant jump in upload and download speeds, which are important today with the increasing amount of data we consume across all of our devices and screens.

So what does that mean for you and your cable modem? Some cable providers require DOCSIS 3.0 for higher-speed tiers. And if you share, upload or download a lot of videos or if you are connecting several devices on the same network—like TVs, smartphones, tablets, and wearables—you may already need that kind of speed. And if you received some gifts during the holidays that pull you into the realm of multiplayer gaming or 4K TV, getting a DOCSIS 3.0 modem may be a good investment for your home network.

To learn more about faster and reliable data speeds, visit SURFboard.com.

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of December 8, 2014

This week, Tom Cloonan, ARRIS’s Chief Technology Officer, Network Solutions, was featured as one of Multichannel NewsTechnology Executives of 2014 for his pioneering role in modern broadband technology and his ongoing contributions to the advancement of DOCSIS 3.1 and CCAP.

Separately, a number of outlets, including CED, covered this week’s news that Net2TV Corp.’s free, ad-supported streaming service, Portico TV will be offered on ARRIS set-tops with the recently launched ARRIS Market.

Also, FierceCable editor Daniel Frankel highlighted the growing awareness and adoption of 4K/Ultra HD technology, a topic he’ll discuss alongside ARRIS Engineering Fellow Sean McCarthy and other industry executives at the FierceCable executive breakfast during CES in January.

In other industry news, Engadget reported that, according to research from Ofcom, broadband usage is increasing in the UK, but the needed connection speeds to support the growing consumption are still unavailable to 15 percent of UK homes.

Finally, Advanced Television covered the results of Strategy Analytics’ Connected Home Devices service report, which found that U.S. ownership of Connected TV devices (smart TVs, digital media streamers, etc.) grew 28 percent year-over-year to reach 168 million units.

Check back next week for the latest industry news.

1.     Jack of All [Broadband] Trades (Dec. 8) By Jeff Baumgartner, Multichannel News: As the chief technology officer, network solutions, at ARRIS, Tom Cloonan plays an integral role in building the fabric of cable’s broadband future, whether it’s one that will be woven with next-generation hybrid fiber coaxial technologies like DOCSIS 3.1, new wireless broadband platforms, or, in some targeted situations, all-fiber infrastructures.

2.       ARRIS stocks OTT Market with Portico TV (Dec.11) By Mike Robuck, CED: Starting early next year, ARRIS will add N2TV’s streaming TV service, which is called Portico TV, to its over-the-top streaming platform for cable operators.

3.       Ready or not, 4K is coming … and you need a roadmap (Dec. 11) By Daniel Frankel, FierceCable: As anyone involved in the launch of HD a decade ago can tell you, getting a new resolution standard into the consumer mainstream isn’t easy.

4.       Brits double their broadband data usage, but speeds are still an issue (Dec. 8) By Nick Summers, Engadget: Broadband usage is soaring in the UK, but the companies piping it into our homes are still playing catch-up. That’s according to Ofcom, which looked into the state of connections across Britain.

5.       Connected TV device ownership up 28% in US (Dec. 11) By Staff Writer, Advanced Television: Ownership of Connected TV devices (including smart TVs, smart Blu-ray players, IP-enabled game consoles and digital media streamers) in the US grew 5 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2014 and 28 per cent year-on-year to reach 168 million units.

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