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Wired

What’s in a Name? The Value of CableLabs Certification/Qualification for Cable Operators

Matt Schmitt
Principal Architect

May 31, 2018

An industry colleague recently reached out to a few of us with a problem: A cable operator was having trouble with a cable modem termination system (CMTS) in his network. The manufacturer of that CMTS had claimed that it was “DOCSIS® Compliant,” and therefore this operator apparently had assumed it would just work.

We checked the posted list of CableLabs Certified® and Qualified devices (available on the CableLabs® website) and were quickly able to determine that the CMTS in question had not received CableLabs qualification. Although the manufacturer in question claimed that its CMTS was compliant with the DOCSIS specifications, that had not been verified by CableLabs.

What does CableLabs Certified and CableLabs Qualified mean?

This incident caused us to realize that it would be valuable— through a series of blog posts—to help clarify what the terms “CableLabs Certified” and “CableLabs Qualified” actually mean, why they’re important to both operators and manufacturers, and how both CableLabs and our Kyrio subsidiary help get products into the field rapidly.

That is a differentiating aspect of CableLabs: We not only help develop new innovative technologies, we also help bring them to market as quickly as possible. We do this through a variety of activities, such as interoperability events where we invite manufacturers to work together collaboratively on neutral ground to promote interoperability, as well as 1:1 private testing through our Kyrio subsidiary.

The ultimate check of compliance to any CableLabs specification, however, comes in the form of our Certification and Qualification programs—that is, certification for customer premise equipment (CPE) devices and qualification for network devices.

The process of becoming CableLabs Certified or Qualified

The road to becoming CableLabs Certified or Qualified:

  • Begins with a manufacturer applying for that status and submitting multiple samples of a device to Kyrio to conduct independent testing of that device.
  • Kyrio executes a series of tests to verify various requirements from the relevant CableLabs specification(s)—essentially an extensive compliance audit—and generate a test report regarding those results.
  • That report is then presented to a Certification Board made up of experts from several CableLabs member companies, who then determine whether to award CableLabs Certification or Qualification.

Only after a manufacturer has successfully completed this process will it be able to state that its device is “CableLabs Certified” or “CableLabs Qualified,” and have that product listed on the CableLabs Certified/Qualified list on our website.

Checking the list

So, the next time you see a manufacturer claim that its products are DOCSIS compliant, you may want to ask whether those products are CableLabs Certified, and check our list of certified devices as a way to ensure that they really are compliant with the specifications.

Don't forget to subscribe to our to receive the next blog post in this series where we will look at the value of CableLabs Certification and Qualification for manufacturers. Visit Kyrio to learn more about their testing services.

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