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NCTC Winter Educational Conference 2015 – Thoughts and Impressions

Published on 3 Feb 2015


I spent the beginning of last week at the WEC, gaining new insights and learning about CableLabs’ innovative plans. CableLabs President and CEO Phil McKenny and his team have been making a number of changes to the organization to unite the cable industry. It appears to be working, as global membership to CableLabs is up.

They have cut back their board members and the number of projects they are going to focus on, but have increased hiring engineers to deliver innovation — specifically to target the disparity between innovation and time delays. The pace change in the industry is getting faster and faster and it is now defined by the customer and not the technology. CableLabs has its eye on speed and execution, because after all, an idea without execution is just a hobby.

With that, C-DOCSIS and Euro DOCSIS are no more. Instead, DOCSIS 3.1 is set to be a global unification of the standard. But what does this mean to the industry? Well, to start, it means CableLabs can focus its attention on developing and implementing one standard instead of three. For developers, it means that vendors only have to write to one specification.

So now let’s talk about all the latest announcements, insights, and information I gathered during my time at the conference:

Transformation of the Content Ecosystem – OTT content is continuing to dominate, but it’s going to be even more over-the-top soon. You’ll be able to share your pictures and videos through your content delivery network, stream video games from online gaming platforms, like Sony PlayStation TV, and listen to an adaptive music library. Will-I-Am has software engineers on his payroll so that he can change the way we experience music.

All IP – Smart devices are now demanding connectivity through IP, and on average there are at least nine devices in a household. More and more devices are coming online and this trend is only expected to grow.

Measurement Revolution – We all know to monitor and measure, but where is the data going? CableLabs is working with Buckeye CableSystem on user viewing trending, to find out what we are viewing and how long we are viewing it.

Big Software Platform – Providers need to make bigger investments in their software systems and must begin utilizing virtualization and SDN to configure their networks to meet customer quality expectations. This trend means being less reliant on hardware, and instead, more adaptive with software.

Better Pipes – To meet the demand of higher bandwidth consumption, operators must invest in next-gen fiber, new plastics, etc. TV Everywhere and OTT content distribution threatens to vastly increase network congestion. Japan is broadcasting in 4K (which requires very high volumes of bandwidth) and already has plans for 8K sometime in 2018.

Security – Identity identification. Bit of a tongue twister, isn’t it? Currently, CableLabs issues 4,000 keys and works very closely with government organizations to identify potential threats to provider networks. Fraud identification, especially over wireless networks, will see new innovations soon.

Radically Changing Economics – China is driving down costs by leveraging a distributed CMTS architecture. Watch out for this trend in other locations around the world.

Pervasive Wireless – Cablevision announced a huge wireless initiative with WiFi-only services. This moves their business into the mobile-delivery space, and is set to offer a cheap alternative to buying data from mobile carriers.

The World of WiFi – Throughout the conference, I heard buzzwords like community WiFi, managing WiFi, and self-healing WiFi devices. So let’s get ready to get airborne with out-of-the-box solutions.

That’s the latest from WEC 2015. If you were at the conference and have other thoughts and insights to share, let me know! Email