Howard Pfeffer is one of those rare engineers who
is both a ! rst generation leader in new technologies as
well as a next generation one.
After working on early cable modem trials in the
1990s that led to Time Warner Cable’s first high-speed
Internet service deployments, Pfeffer is now overseeing
engineering teams working on next generation broadband
technologies that are likely to usher in even bigger
changes in the cable industry.
Pfeffer got the technology bug early on from his father,
who was an engineer; his love of music inspired him to
take apart and rebuild amplifiers. After graduating from
SUNY-Stony Brook with a degree in electrical engineering
in 1984, he landed in the fledgling online industry in
1989 as a software engineer for the Prodigy Online service,
where he worked on some early cable modem trials.
That expertise led him to Time Warner in 1995,
where he was one of the original members of Time
Warner Cable’s pioneering cable modem efforts. “Originally,
there were just four or five of us,” he recalls.
But those efforts, which also lay the foundation for
the cable industry’s highly profitable move into phone
service, have transformed the cable business, with
broadband and voice accounting for more than 40% of
Time Warner Cable’s subscription revenues in the first
quarter of 2011.
That success also propelled Pfeffer up the ladder at
Time Warner Cable. Earlier this year, he was promoted
to senior VP of broadband engineering and technology,
where he now oversees all of the MSO’s residential and
commercial high-speed data and voice services, as well
as its emerging converged IP offerings.
Here, Pfeffer and his team’s work on Time Warner
Cable’s broadband network to increase speed and reliability
is playing a crucial role in the MSO’s ability to
deliver more video, at higher resolutions, into the home
over the Internet.
More fundamentally, those efforts are also part of a
larger move by cable operators to expand the use of
their IP infrastructure, with engineers from the video
side of Time Warner Cable using some of the IP technologies
deployed by Pfeffer’s engineers so they can deliver
more personalized content to iPads, smartphones
and other IP connected devices.
“In general the industry is moving toward more userbased,
user-centric services,” Pfeffer says. “TV Everywhere
is a good example of that trend, where you are
delivering a video experience to a specific user of a