Cable Executives and Equipment Suppliers Call for Standardized Data Connections
Anaheim, CA, November 30, 1995—Leading executives of the North American cable television industry today announced agreement with key equipment manufacturers to specify some of the technical ways cable networks and data equipment talk with one another.
The announcement was made at the Western Cable Show here and included the Executive Committee of Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (CableLabs), the cable television industry's research and development consortium.Among the companies represented were CableLabs;cable operators Comcast Corp., Cox Cable Communications, Tele-Communications, Inc., Time Warner Cable, Rogers Cablesystems Ltd., and Continental Cablevision;and many equipment manufacturers.
"This international specification will take the World Wide Web a step further, bringing broadband interconnections into homes worldwide," said CableLabs Chairman Dr. John C. Malone, president and CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc.
The representatives of cable companies and equipment suppliers, which provide the central elements required in order to establish ubiquitous high-speed data networks, said consumers would benefit through lower prices and more choice if these points of connection, or interfaces, were specified.
The cable television networks that pass 97% of property lines in North America have tremendous bandwidth that allows for the transmission of many services in addition to video.But these networks require devices, called modems, in order to carry data services such as the Internet or online services to home computers.
There are many companies that are making such modems today.Cable operators already have purchased thousands of these modems and may buy hundreds of thousands more in order to meet the high market demand for such devices. "However, these modems are not interoperable," Malone said.
"We applaud the research that went into today's modems, and obviously wish to use it to get into the marketplace first," he said."But in the next generation of modems, we look for more commonality in cable so that vendors may enjoy mass market sales and cable customers can be assured that their devices work on TCI systems or Time Warner cable systems or any cable systems in the world," Malone said.
Cable companies and manufacturers today are working toward an open standard that includes those proprietary portions that are available in licensing on a non-discriminatory basis.To spearhead this effort, CableLabs has been asked to coordinate the process which its members hope will result in specifications for these connection points, called interfaces.
Leading U.S. and Canadian cable companies will be involved in this endeavor and hope to build upon the valuable early work done by the cable modem manufacturers and the lessons to be learned from deployment of various modems in 1996.These specifications will then be presented to recognized standards-setting bodies for approval as standards.
"It is CableLabs' intent that the proposed standard address interoperability of modems, leaving each vendor free to offer its own implementation with a variety of additional, competitive features and future improvements," said Dr. Richard R. Green, president and CEO of CableLabs.
Several interfaces are within weeks of being specified.One is the connection between the cable television modem and the computer.This connection would use the technical protocol known as 10BaseT.
In addition, the link between cable networks and the next level of wider area networks is close to being identified.There is a strong likelihood this connection would be the so-called internet protocol (IP) running over an asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) or fiber distributed data interface (FDDI) or either of the digital service (DS) 3 or optical carrier (OC) 1 protocols, industry engineers note.
Some interfaces also reside within the cable network.Several of these system-level interfaces also will be specified in order to ensure interoperability of such important functions as authentication for login/logout, self-installation of cable modems for easy and reliable customer activation, and some spectrum management over the cable network's hybrid fiber/coaxial plant.
Manufacturers who invest in technology early on, and who supply the early generations of modems for market entry, will have many opportunities to increase sales as interfaces are established, executives said.
CableLabs will work with vendors and others on these intellectual property rights issues, to ensure a continuing supply of modems to meet the high early demand.
CableLabs is a research and development consortium of cable television system operators representing more than 85% of the cable subscribers in the United States, 75% of the subscribers in Canada, and 5-10% of cable subscribers in Mexico.CableLabs plans and funds research and development projects that will help cable companies take advantage of future opportunities and meet future challenges in the telecommunications industry.It also transfers relevant technologies to member companies and to the industry.In addition, CableLabs acts as a clearinghouse to provide information on current and prospective technological developments that are of interest to the cable industry.
About CableLabs: Cable Television Laboratories (www.cablelabs.com) was founded in 1988 by members of the cable television industry. A non-profit research and development consortium, CableLabs delivers innovations that enable cable operators to be the providers of choice in their markets. Cable operators from around the world are members. CableLabs maintains web sites at www.cablelabs.com; www.packetcable.com; www.cablemodem.com; www.cablenet.org, and www.opencable.com.
CableLabs® is a registered trademark of Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. Other CableLabs marks are listed at http://www.cablelabs.com/certqual/trademarks. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.