Why Scale Needs Unity: One Operator’s Journey (2021)

By Elizabeth Riley-Wasserman, Ph.D. & Shane Portfolio, Comcast

The “heavy lift,” when industries like ours consolidate though acquisitions and geographic clustering, is almost always carried by engineering. Why, because the biggest physical asset is the plant. And it wasn’t that long ago when dozens of different operators made hundreds of different decisions about capacity expansion methods, network topology, node sizes, even amplifier spacing and drop materials. Big decisions, that necessarily last for decades.

Then, one day, the convergence activities wind down, giving way to the undiluted pursuit of scale – scale of the network, and, by extension, to operations and “the field.” The pursuit of scale is a perpetual transformation, and involves aligning many of those previous decisions, made in previous times and under previous ownership. It’s a different kind of heavy lift because it’s as people-impacting as it is equipment-impacting. If you’ve ever tried to replace a favorite tool or dashboard with another one, for any reason, you know how what we’re talking about. Unity through scale is about aligning people with tools, processes, and standards.

Comcast’s unification blueprint focuses on three core areas: technology convergence, tools alignment, and process alignment. It’s more transformative process than organizational location, centered on a highly reliable, self-healing network. It uses real-time data to enable automation, and it’s all supported by the same tools, processes, and practices.

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