Profile: Nimrod Ben-Natan

Sep 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Director of narrowcast services for Harmonic in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Background: Mr. Ben-Natan joined Harmonic’s research and development division in Israel five years ago as a developer of new video transmission platforms. He moved to the United States two years ago to focus on marketing. Prior to joining Harmonic, he worked for DSL firm Orckit in Tel Aviv, Israel. He has also served as an engineer in the Israeli army, where he developed tactical communication systems.
Current focus: Mr. Ben-Natan works in the Convergent Systems Division of Harmonic, which develops, manufactures and sells equipment and solutions for the broadband business. His focus is on the narrowcast server gateway for video-on-demand applications. The NSG delivers the video stream from the headend to the customers. The product began shipping in early 2001 and is slated to be used by Cablevision when it introduces digital cable services this fall. Broadband network provider WINfirst is currently deploying the NSG in Sacramento, Calif., and Dallas. “We see a very strong demand for this piece of equipment as part of the strong demand for video-on-demand, especially in the U.S.,” Mr. Ben-Natan said.
Changing economics: VOD is becoming more feasible from an economic standpoint for operators as costs of the equipment and transmission fall. Harmonic’s NSG supports a gigabit Ethernet /DWDM transport, which significantly lowers the transport cost-from about $200 to $40 per stream, Mr. Ben-Natan said.
Future developments: Mr. Ben-Natan expects VOD to grow in the coming years to encompass other applications, such as the subscription VOD that HBO is pioneering via its test with Time Warner in Columbia, S.C., and network PVRs, in which personal video recording capability is integrated into the network rather than the set-top box. “That’s the direction I see being evolved in this market,” he said.
Macroeconomics: Harmonic consists of two divisions, CSD and the Broadband Access Networks division. The BAN division has seen some slowdown as a result of the soft economy as operators scale back their upgrade plans. The CSD, however, is oriented toward services and products and has been less impacted. “If it’s an MPEG encoder or NSG, we don’t see a slowdown because that is more service-focused. If you install it and get revenue, we don’t see a slowdown,” Mr. Ben-Natan said.