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Your INTX Tech-Talk Decoder Ring!

Expect no shortage of technical jargon at this week’s INTX. From the clicker to the cloud, the lingo landscape in Chicago will assuredly heave with impressively nerdy expressions. (More will assuredly crop up in this year’s batch of NCTA Tech Papers, too.)

No need to go it alone — this handy descrambler sheet will fortify you for sustainable tech-talk in any situation!


HDMI CEC. This one, expressed as the constituent letters, matters in the realm of “one remote that does everything,” as opposed to palming one clicker to turn the TV on and off, and to adjust the volume — and a different one to find and play content.

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface — nothing new there. It’s what’s inside the connector connected to the cord that plugs your Blu-ray Disc player, set-top box, OTT player, etc. to your TV set.

The CEC part stands for “Consumer Electronics Control,” and does just that. If you’re using a Comcast “voice remote,” for instance, you’ll notice fairly quickly that it’s not set up to fetch the make/model of your TV from the cloud, nor to pass volume up/down instructions to and from the cloud. Which doesn’t make sense, anyway — and HDMI CEC will solve it. (And it is nonetheless one of the greatest clickers yet to grace the dozens of remotes in my little OTT lab.)


VidiPath. This is the consumer-facing brand of “DLNA CVP-2” (we’ll spare you) and gives service providers a no-boxes-required way to transmit and render two things on a consumer-purchased screen: Their own navigation environment (e.g. Comcast X1, Charter Spectrum, Cox Contour), and the subscription video content feeding it.

That’s right: No set-top required. No “client/slave” box tied to a set-top required, either. Think whole-home DVR on all (VidiPath-capable) screens — including laptops and desktop PCs — without a box.

This very feat — no box, with operator-controlled look-and-feel — has long been unobtainable, because of (I’ll say it!), power-trippy issues over who “owns” the first screen. Vidi-Path evidently changes that. (I’ll believe it when I see it, beyond demos.)

IN THE NETWORK You’ve probably heard as much as you care to hear about “SDN” and its sidekick, “NFV,” so we’ll keep it short: SDN stands for Software Defined Networks; NFV for Network Functions Virtualization.

Both exemplify the steamroller that is software, replacing gear that used to populate head-ends and hubs. Hardware cedes to software, everywhere, even in the plant.

IP Multicast. Again, not especially new to technologists working the transition to all-IP (Internet Protocol), but increasingly relevant as video distribution shifts onto the lanes used to shuttle bits through cable modems, from the lanes used to move them through set-tops.

Because the former (cable modem/broadband) is inherently a “one-to-one” topology, and the latter (set-top/ broadcast) a “one to many” topology, something was needed to make sure a broadcast-like experience sustains within a non-broadcast reality.

That’s IP multicast. It’s like when you put the flag up on your mailbox, to tell the postman you have something to send — except you put the flag up to indicate that you want to join the stream of whatever show you’re selecting.

OFDM With LDPC. This dynamic duo of tech jargon will soon serve as the industry’s primary Gigmaker, in terms of getting to the Gigabit speeds little needed now, but nevertheless the vogue in broadband brinksmanship.

OFDM stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, and is a modulation technique long used by mobile carriers. LDPC stands for Low Density Parity Check. OFDM paired with LDPC creates the 50% improvements in upstream and downstream speed.

Both also represent the core of the DOCSIS 3.1 specification, which will be evidenced in tech sessions and anywhere you see cable modems and gateways on the INTX floor.


Redundant Code. This one tends to hang out with “code re-use.” Both are big topics among software developers far and wide, because code that’s redundant wastes space and slows things down.

Sandboxing. Another noun-turned-verb, to mean a “cordoned off” playground used by software developers to test their wares, before they go live.


Elasticity. The shrinking and stretching of the three main building blocks of any “cloud,” which are connectivity, compute power, and storage. An elastic cloud matters particularly as a function of demand.

For instance, the “bee cam” pointed at my two beehives can handle five simultaneous streams. If its content was suddenly to become a worldwide trending topic, I could theoretically buy some “elastic cloud” resources — more bandwidth, modernized encoders, better streaming. Maybe even some storage, to keep the footage during the cold hibernation months.


WebRTC. A way to do real time communications (hence the “RTC”) from a Web browser. You’re shopping an AirBnB property in Europe, and the host happens to be home. She shows you around the place, with video from her phone, to your screen. That’s webRTC . It’ll get bound into websites and apps, and soon enough we’ll be armed to voice or video chat from anything to anybody.

OpenStack. In short, the operating system for the cloud. Or, an operating system for the cloud. Most days, OpenStack overflows with news, announcements and momentum; other days, it’s under attack for “needing more than cheerleaders.”


Multi-user MIMO and Massive MIMO. Some pronounce the acronym as “my-moh,” others as “me-moh.” Either way, it’s fun to say. Especially massive MIMO! MIMO stands for “Multiple Input, Multiple Output.” It’s all about the antennas used in WiFi routers — there are 4 by 4 MIMOs, 8 by 8 MIMOs, and, down the road, 128 by 128. What?

That’s massive ! That’s a sampling of this year’s tech talk at INTX. See you in Chicago!