Cable Show Tech Papers Full of Golden Nuggets

One of the bigger developments following this year’s Cable Show, if you’re into immersion learning via tech-talk, is the online placement of the 2014 Spring Technical Forum papers. For free!

Up until now, they came on a $50 DVD. Earlier, and for years, the papers came out as thick, bound editions. (A weary shelf at the office sags with Tech Papers dating back to the late ’80s.)

If this is of interest, and you’d rather read them all yourself, go here: If you’d rather this (very abbreviated and likely to be continued!) summary, read on.

As titles go, few say “read me now!” more than “Predictions on the Evolution of Access Networks to the Year 2030 and Beyond,” written by five technologists at Arris (among them, Tom Cloonan, CTO, who would have won this year’s Mister Prolific Award, had we one, for writing or contributing to six papers).

Shortcut advice on “Predictions”: If rushed, or impatient, skip to page 25, the first of three pages that characterize scenarios — some that affect all MSOs, others for operators planning to extend the life of existing plant, still others for cable systems going to new ways of bandwidth expansion, like Passive Optical Networks (PONs), which is tech talk for fiber-to-the-home.

As an avid observer of cable’s upstream (home-to-headend) signal path, my favorite line from “Predictions”: “Some of these MSOs will change the split on their upstream spectrum … in an attempt to provide more upstream bandwidth capacity.” Both 85 Megahertz and 204 MHz were mentioned as candidates for the upper boundary for that terrifically thin spectral slice. (The very mention of a “widened upstream” was akin to operational anathema — as recently as two years ago.)

Trend-wise, the notion of “virtualization,” expressed as “SDN” (Software-Defined Networks) and “NFV” (Network Function Virtualization) blitzed this year’s papers. It’s all about doing in software what’s now done in hardware. Example: “Using SDN and NFV for Increasing Feature Velocity in a Multi-Vendor World,” by Cox’s Jeff Finklestein and Cisco’s Aron Bernstein.

Also: “An SDN-Based Approach to Measuring and Optimizing ABR Video Quality of Experience,” by the also-prolific Sangeeta Ramakrishnan and Xiaoqing Zhu, both with Cisco.

Another trendline from the 2014 stash: Wi-Fi and wireless. Need a deep dive on why the batteries in your digital life behave the way they do? Go directly to “Wireless Shootout: Matching Form Factor, Application, Battery Requirement, Data Rates & Range to Wireless Standards,” by Comcast’s David John Urban.

If you’ve been wondering whether WiFi has what it takes to stream multiple HD signals around a place, go to “Study of WiFi for In-Home Streaming,” by Alireza Babaei, Neeharika Allanki and Vikas Sarawat, all with CableLabs.

There’s so much more. Check them out for yourself, and be sure to thank Andy Scott, Mark Bell, and the team at the NCTA for doing the work of putting it all “on the line.”

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