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CableLabs Unifies Specs For Unicast Video

CableLabs has released specifications defining how cable headend equipment delivers personalized TV services, bringing architectures developed by Time Warner Cable and Comcast together under one umbrella.

The specs, published Nov. 7, are part of CableLabs’ overarching Modular Headend Architecture, which includes the existing DOCSIS modular cable modem termination system (M-CMTS) specifications.

CableLabs called the new specifications “a point of harmonization” between Time Warner Cable’s Interactive Services Architecture (ISA) and Comcast’s Next Generation on Demand (NGOD), which are used by throughout the industry.

“This is important because for the first time we have an interoperable set of specifications that will lead to integrated equipment from multiple suppliers for delivery of advanced video and data services,” Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner said in a statement.

The new CableLabs specs cover: MPEG video processing functionality for edge quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) devices that are used to deliver video-on-demand and switched digital video services; an edge QAM provisioning and configuration mechanism updated to include video services; and a resource management and video session setup protocol.

With the new specifications, CableLabs said, the Modular Headend Architecture suite provides a common approach for universal edge QAMs, as well as video edge QAMs and M-CMTS edge QAMs.

The interoperability efforts “guarantee that equipment and software vendors will compete, and that cable TV system operators will be free to innovate for their own systems using a ‘best of breed’ approach,” said Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with In-Stat (which like Multichannel News is owned by Reed Business Information).

CableLabs said MSOs, vendors and organizations contributing to the specs include: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications, Cable Europe Labs, ETRI, Arris, BigBand Networks, Broadcom, Camiant, Cisco Systems, Harmonic, LiquidxStream Systems, Motorola, RGB Networks and Vecima Networks.

“Once again our industry’s suppliers have worked with us through CableLabs to achieve a common approach which benefits the whole industry and our suppliers,” Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie said in a statement.

A summary of the Modular Headend Architecture specifications can be found at