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Wired

OFC: A Third of a Mile of Next-Gen Optics

Matt Schmitt
Principal Architect

Apr 23, 2019

0.0000026 seconds.

For the more technically inclined, that’s 2.6 microseconds. Which is how long it would take light to travel a third of a mile through fiber optic cable. It was also the length of the show floor at OFC: The Optical Networking and Communications Conference and Exhibition, held in March in San Diego, California.

Of course, it took me considerably longer – 115,384,615 times longer, or about 5 minutes – to walk that same distance at the show. And that’s assuming I maintained a fast pace and avoided stopping for the entire distance – a feat that proved essentially impossible, given the amazing assortment of next-generation optical technology on display, as well as a large number of familiar faces around me!

CableLabs Represented

The show floor hosted 683 exhibitors – too many to take in over such a short time. Among them were many of the companies that have been involved in the CableLabs P2P Coherent Optics effort, helping to blaze the trail for the use of coherent optics technology in the cable access network, in turn enabling our 10G vision. In those booths, many were showcasing products that support 100G speeds based on our PHYv1.0 specification, as well as their roadmap and plans for devices supporting 200G speeds based on our PHYv2.0 specification. Roaming the show floor, checking out exhibited products or enjoying key sessions, I kept running into many of the direct participants in our efforts, despite the fact that 15,400 people were in attendance.

It didn’t seem that I could go very far without encountering someone from a significant CableLabs contingent or one of our members, reflecting the importance of next-generation optics to the cable industry, as well as CableLabs’ strong commitment to developing new optical technologies. Our Optical Center of Excellence has been at the forefront of developing innovative approaches for applying optical technology to cable networks, such as Full Duplex Coherent Optics.

CableLabs on Display

Although CableLabs wasn’t an official exhibitor, beyond having a contingent of people present, CableLabs and cable definitely had a presence at this year’s OFC. The importance of the cable industry was mentioned during a keynote speech; Curtis Knittle participated on a panel on “Action in the Access Network” as a part of the OIDA Executive Forum, and one of our interns presented a poster as part of a collaboration with CableLabs’ Bernardo Huberman and Lin Cheng.

Another presentation from our own Mu Xu also illustrated how CableLabs is pushing the boundaries of optical technology. This presentation – titled “Multi-Stage Machine Learning Enhanced DSP for DP-64QAM Coherent Optical Transmission” and co-authored by other CableLabs thought leaders including Junwen Zhang, Haipeng Zhang, Jing Wang, Lin Cheng, Zhensheng Jia, Alberto Campos, and Curtis Knittle – was particularly noteworthy because it brought together multiple areas of next-generation technology and research going on at CableLabs.

This was my first year attending OFC, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what was there. More than anything else, I came away impressed by the impact that the CableLabs team is making on the optical industry, one that will be critical for enabling our 10G future. I’m greatly looking forward to next year.


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Wireless

Mobility Lab Webinar #3 Recap: Inter-Operator Mobility with CBRS

Omkar Dharmadhikari
Wireless Architect

Apr 18, 2019

Today we hosted our third webinar in the Mobility Lab Webinar series, “Inter-Operator Mobility with CBRS.” In case you missed the webinar, you can read about it in this blog or scroll down to see the recorded webinar and Q&A below.

Background

Multiple service operators (MSOs) may be motivated to provide mobile services using the new 3.5 GHz spectrum introduced with Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). However, because CBRS operates low-power small cells to provide localized coverage in high-traffic environments, MSOs may rely on mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreements to provide mobile service outside the CBRS coverage area. In this scenario, MSOs will be motivated to:

  • deliver a seamless transition,
  • minimize the transition time between the home CBRS network and the visitor MVNO network, and
  • maximize device attachment to the home CBRS network.

For inter-operator roaming, mobile operators use one of the two 3GPP roaming standards—Home Routing (HR) or Local Break Out (LBO)—to support the transition between a home network and roaming partner visitor networks. The international or domestic roaming agreements between home and visitor operator networks require the two networks to share roaming interfaces, as dictated by the 3GPP-defined roaming models. Because mobile operators are motivated to keep their subscribers on their network as long as possible to minimize LTE offload, they have little incentive to provide open access and connection to MVNO partners. Thus, the CBRS operator and host MVNO operators may have different and opposing motivations.

Our Webinar: Inter-Operator Mobility with CBRS

The “Inter-Operator Mobility with CBRS” webinar provides key findings that may assist MSOs in evaluating the implementation of the two roaming models for CBRS use cases with regards to:

  • inter-operator mobility using network-based triggers for connected and idle modes,
  • sharing of roaming interfaces,
  • Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) configurations, and
  • higher-priority network selection timer.

The webinar also discusses the alternative solutions to network-based transition, such as:

  • device transition controlled with an external server and
  • enhancing dual SIM functionality.

You can view the webinar, webinar Q&A and technical brief below:

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Omkar Dharmadhikari. Stay tuned for information about upcoming webinars by subscribing to our blog.


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Policy

Driving Global Connectivity Well Beyond Cable Technology

Kelton Shockey
Technology Policy Associate

Mark Walker
Director, Technology Policy

Apr 15, 2019

CableLabs participates in more than 30 unique standards organizations, industry consortia, and open source efforts. 

CableLabs is focused on developing innovative technologies, not only in the performance of cable’s hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks, but also in many areas that extend beyond the traditional cable network, including wireless (both licensed and unlicensed), cybersecurity, network function virtualization (NFV), optical technologies for access networks, and the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to network management and orchestration. To be successful, CableLabs recognizes that, in these areas beyond traditional cable technology, it must engage and work with the broader technology community to drive advancements. This effort is visible through CableLabs’ deep commitment to leading and contributing to standards organizations, industry consortia, and open source efforts in these broader areas.  

Developing standards and industry specifications are at the core of CableLabs, which has been in the specification and standardization business since its inception over 30 years ago. In 1997, CableLabs released the initial version of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), the technology that enables broadband service to be provided over an HFC network. Standardization of the cable interface specification allowed the cable network operators to work at scale with the network equipment manufacturers to build the interoperable technology needed for cable to meet the exploding demand for broadband Internet access.

Ever since, CableLabs, along with its members and the vendor community, has continued to advance DOCSIS technology. Cable operators today have largely moved to DOCSIS 3.1 technology, enabling the availability of gigabit-speed broadband across nearly the entire cable footprint in the US, and driving towards a “10G” network capability. As cable has broadened its focus, CableLabs has responded by broadening its standards efforts and industry engagement.

Improving Wi-Fi and Enabling 5G through Wireless Standards Engagement

CableLabs contributes significantly to almost a dozen different standards organizations to improve wireless connectivity through standardization related mechanisms. Our work is not restricted to improvements in the traditionally separate spheres of in-home and mobile wireless and includes work toward a seamless network convergence for the future. Along those lines, CableLabs is engaged in the O-RAN Alliance, where we are leading an effort to establish an open virtualized RAN (“radio access network”) fronthaul specification which will allow for low-cost small cells with DOCSIS network backhaul.

At 3GPP, CableLabs is driving the Wireless-Wireline Convergence (WWC) effort to make the operation, management, and traversal of 5G wireless networks and 10G DOCSIS networks more seamless. CableLabs is also working to bring consumers a faster and safer in-home network experience through a next-generation adaptive security platform, CableLabs ® Micronets, which enables enterprise-level smart security at home. Beyond making home networks safer, we’re working to make them more powerful; exhibited by our role in achieving recent milestones with carrier-grade Wi-Fi certification through the Wi-Fi Alliance’s VantageTM and launch of the new EasyMeshTM certification program.

Driving Increased Performance of Optical Technologies in the Access Network through Broad Industry Collaboration

As cable drives its fiber infrastructure deeper into the HFC network, CableLabs has developed new technology for use of fiber in the access portion of the network and has promoted standardization of such technology. We are involved at several global standards development bodies—including IEEE, ESTI, O-RAN, and SCTE where we work to level-up all aspects of the fiber network. These efforts combine our internal specification development— work (such as Coherent Optics specifications) with broad industry collaboration in order to deliver dramatic improvements to the access network across all areas. This means that while working toward ever faster speeds through developing the next generations of PON protocols, the whole network ecosystem needs to be addressed, which includes innovation in network operations with projects such as Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM).

Building a Common, Secure, Foundation for IoT Devices of the Future

CableLabs envisions a future empowered by technologies that improve our lives—a future where augmented reality (AR)/ virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays, video walls, AI-enabled media, ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT) devices, light field holodecks and displays (as seen in our latest Near Future video) are just the beginning. However, in order for AR/VR devices to be populated with high-quality content, for video walls to connect seamlessly, or for our IoT devices to assist us securely, we will first need high-quality, secure, industry-driven standards on which the technology and applications can be built. This belief has led to our involvement in the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), an industry effort to develop a secure interoperability specification for IoT.

Catalyzing the Future of Immersive Media Experiences

Recognizing the importance of building consensus throughout the ecosystem, even beyond the broadband network, CableLabs is significantly involved in and contributing technical expertise toward a number of emerging technology areas, including significant projects in video, VR/AR, and immersive media. Essential to the actual adoption of standards, we recently played a founding role in establishing Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF) to address patent licensing of future MPEG codecs. In addition, we announced a new collaboration called IDEA (Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance) to establish and promote end-to-end delivery of immersive content, including light fields, over broadband networks.

To learn more about our work in standards, open source, and industry consortia please see our members-only (login required) Standards Strategy Update (April 2019) on current engagements.


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Innovation

An IDEA is Born: CableLabs Heads Up New Alliance That Will Bring Holodecks Into Your Living Room

Apr 11, 2019

CableLabs has joined forces with top players in cutting-edge media technology—Charter Communications, Light Field Lab, OTOY and Visby—to form the Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance (IDEA). Chaired by CableLabs’ Principal Architect and Futurist, Arianne Hinds, the alliance aims to facilitate the development of an end-to-end ecosystem for immersive media, including VR, AR, stereoscopic 3D and the much-talked-about light field holodeck, by creating a suite of display-agnostic, royalty-free specifications. Although the work is already well underway, the official IDEA launch event was on April 8 at the 2019 NAB Show. Learn more about it here.

IDEA’s Challenges: What problems do we want to solve?

Advancements in immersive media offer endless opportunities not only in gaming and entertainment but also in telemedicine, education, business and personal communication and many other areas that we haven’t even begun to explore. It’s an exciting technological frontier that always gets a lot of buzz at tech expos and industry conferences. The question now is not if, but when is it going to become reality and what are the steps to getting there?

Despite numerous innovation leaps in VR and AR in recent years, the immersive media industry as a whole is still in its very early stages. Light field technology, the richest and most dense form of immersive media that allows the user to view and interact with a three-dimensional object in volumetric space, is particularly limited by the shortcomings of the existing video interchange standards.

  • Problem #1: Too much data

A photorealistic, volumetric video requires substantially more data than the traditional 2D media we’re used to today. In order to deliver a truly seamless and lifelike immersive experience, we need to take a different approach for an interoperable media format and network delivery.

  • Problem #2: Inadequate Network Ecosystem

There’s currently no common media format for storage, distribution and display of immersive images. We’ll need to build a media-aware network that’s fully optimized for the new generation of immersive entertainment.

IDEA’s Goals: How will we address these problems?

IDEA is already working on the first version of the Immersive Technologies Media Format (ITMF), a display-agnostic set of specifications for representation of immersive media. ITMF is based on OTOY’s well-established ORBX Scene Graph format currently used in 3D animation.

The initial draft of ITMF, scheduled for release by the end of 2019, will meet the following criteria:

  • It will be royalty-free and open source
  • It will be built on established technologies already embraced by content creators
  • It will be unconstrained by legacy raster-based 2D approaches
  • It will allow for continued improvements and advancements
  • It will address real-life requirements based on input from content creators, technology manufacturers and network operators.

In addition to the development of the ITMF standard, IDEA will also:

  • Gather marketplace and technical requirements to define and support new specifications
  • Facilitate interoperability testing and demonstration of immersive technologies in order to gain industry feedback
  • Produce immersive media educational events and materials
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of information and news relevant to the immersive media ecosystem, open to international participation of all interested parties

IDEA’s New Chairperson: A Woman With a 3D Vision

IDEA’s newly-elected chairperson, Dr. Arianne Hinds, joined CableLabs in 2012 as a Principal Architect of Video & Standards Strategy. A VR futurist, innovator and inventor, she has over 25 years of experience in areas of image and video compression, including MPEG and JPEG. Dr. Hinds has won numerous industry awards, including the prestigious 2017 WICT Rocky Mountain Woman in Technology Award. She is the Chair for the U.S. delegation to MPEG and is currently serving as the Chairperson of the L3.1 Committee for United States MPEG Development Activity for the International Committee for Information Technology Standards. Her new responsibilities at IDEA are a natural extension of her life’s work, perfectly aligned with the IDEA’s mission to bring the beautiful world of immersive media technology into the mainstream.

IDEA-Founders-Arianne-Hinds

Why CableLabs?

The 10G platform positions cable operators as the first commercial network service providers to support truly immersive services beyond the limits of legacy 2D video. With its ability to deliver up to 10Gbps while at the same time supporting low latency for interactive applications, 10G will be crucial to delivering the immersive media at bitrates (e.g. 1.5 Gbps for light field panels) that allow the corresponding displays to operate at their fullest potential. 

Become an IDEA member

No one company can build the future in isolation. IDEA welcomes anyone—technologists, creative visionaries, equipment manufacturers and network distribution operators—who share its vision. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a member, please visit the website at www.immersivealliance.org.

You can learn more about the CableLabs future vision by clicking below. 


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Wired

Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM): Cable Modem Validation Application(s)

Jason Rupe
Principal Architect

Jay Zhu
Senior Engineer

Apr 10, 2019

Sometimes, two apps are better than one. We now have two versions of the Cable Modem Validation Application (CMVA) available for download and use: a new lab automation version, and a data exploration version.

Thing One and Thing Two

Lab automation and certification have unique requirements, but investigation and invention require flexibility. Because the CMVA found value as a cable modem (CM) data plotter and browser on top of its original purpose as a lab testing tool, we decided there should be two versions—one focused on each use case.

Sometimes You Feel Like a DUT

The newest, most complex version of CMVA is built specifically for CM Cert-Lab testing and includes several new features and automations:

  • Improved efficiency for CMVA on certification testing: CMVA now discovers OFDM/OFDMA-based topology information from the CMTS and loads all related channel configuration information automatically for testing. CMVA also synchronizes PNM SNMP SET command parameters with XCCF for better efficiency and greater control.
  • Automated discovery of the active DOCSIS® 3.1 CM list: Users can easily select CMs with their test configurations automatically filled to start tests with a few clicks.
  • CMVA now runs multiple PNM tests sequentially on multiple CMs in parallel with simple clicks on a single user login: The latest test reports are directly served from the CM table. Different users are handled in parallel, as previously.
  • CMVA now embeds detailed testing logs into the HTML test report: The log file can be downloaded from the HTML test report. The HTML test report is portable.
  • CMVA now keeps copies of raw PNM test files together with the test reports for vendor debugging references: When downloading the test reports, CMVA packages the test logs in raw text, and forms the portable HTML test report into a single archive.
  • All the Acceptance Test Plan (ATP) calculation activities are placed in the log file for vendor debugging references.
  • We added a function for resetting CMs remotely with one click: This is important for testing and useful for other purposes.

 

Proactive-Network-Maintenace

Figure 1: New layout for test and configuration management

CM-table-proactive-network-maintenance

Figure 2: Select CM directly from the table to start tests; the latest reports are linked directly in the table for convenience

 

test-procedures-proactive-network-maintenance

Figure 3: The test procedures ran last time are tracked, and the configurations are automatically filled

 

Detailed-test-logs-proactive-network-maintenance

Figure 4: Detailed test logs are embedded directly into the portable HTML test report and can be downloaded as pure text log

All these new features are important for test automation, but some of them are useful for other needs. Go nuts! But if you simply want the basic capabilities that CMVA always provided, you can still get that version.

Sometimes You Don’t

Sometimes you just want a simple way to poll a set of modems and see what you can get. The previous version is a bit simpler, but it still has the validation capabilities if you need them. So, it might be the version that can address most, if not all, of your needs. We use it for many purposes but mainly as a testing and development tool. Here are some specific use cases we’ve encountered:

  • Testing ideas in the lab: The PNM Working Group InGeNeOS conducted lab testing, as reported on before, and we used CMVA to grab data from CMs under test.
  • Developing applications: As we work to develop our first large-scale PNM base application, inside our prototype PNM Application Environment, we use CMVA to develop theories about how the data can be processed for automated processing.
  • Building reports and documenting: So often, we need to capture what certain impairments look like, or obtain a good visualization of a PNM measurement, and CMVA makes that handy.
  • Investigating issues: With CMVA, it’s a simple matter to collect data from a pool of CMs and compare the results. This helps us investigate many issues, including changes in firmware versions, CM responsiveness, and other potential issues with plant configuration, software changes and so on.
  • Combined Common Collection Framework (XCCF) development and testing: As we develop new capabilities with our XCCF, we can use CMVA to validate its functionality.

If you are a user of CMVA, let us know how you have used it!

Two Can Play at That Game

Although the more complicated testing tool can be used for all these use cases and many more, some users don’t need the automation, overhead and many controls required for automated testing. When you contact us to get an updated version of CMVA, please let us know what you would like to use it for. That way, we can offer you the right version.


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Wired

Forward Error Correction (FEC): A Primer on the Essential Element for Optical Transmission Interoperability

Steve Jia
Distinguished Technologist, Wired Technologies

Apr 4, 2019

Forward error correction (FEC) has been a powerful tool in the cable industry for many years. In fact, perhaps the single biggest performance improvement in the DOCSIS 3.1 specifications was achieved by changing the FEC being used in previous versions – Reed-Soloman (RS) – to a new coding scheme with improved performance: low-density parity check (LDPC). Similarly, FEC has also become an indispensable element for high-speed optical transmission systems, especially in current coherent optical transmission age.

FEC is an effective digital signal processing method that improves the bit error rate of communication links by adding redundant information (parity bits) to the data at the transmitter side so that the receiver side then uses the redundant information to detect and correct errors that may have been introduced in the transmission link. As the following figure shows, the signal encoding that takes place at the transmitter has to be properly decoded by the receiver in order to extract the original signal information. Precise definition and implementation of the encoding rules are required to avoid misinterpretation of the information by the receiver decoding the signal. Successful interoperability will only take place when both the transmitter and receiver follow and implement the same encoding and decoding rules.

Forward-Error-Correction-FEC

As you can see, FEC is the essential element that needs to be defined to enable the development of interoperable transceivers using optical technology over point-to-point links. The industry trends are currently moving toward removing proprietary aspects and becoming interoperable when the operators advocate more open and disaggregated transport in high-volume short-reach applications.

When considering which FEC to choose for a new specification, you need to consider some key metrics, including the following:

  • Coding overhead rate­— The ratio of the number of redundant bits to information bits
  • Net coding gain (NCG)— The improvement of received optical sensitivity with and without using FEC associated with increasing bit rate
  • Pre-FEC BER threshold— A predefined threshold for error-free post-FEC transmission determined by NCG

Other considerations include hardware complexity, latency, and power consumption.

One major decision point for FEC coding and decoding is between Hard-Decision FEC (HD-FEC) and Soft-Decision FEC (SD-FEC). HD-FEC performs decisions whether 1s or 0s have occurred based on exact thresholds, whereas SD-FEC makes decisions based on probabilities that a 1 or 0 has occurred. SD-FEC can provide higher NCG to get closer to the ideal Shannon limit with the sacrifice of higher complexity and more power consumption.

The first-generation FEC code, standardized for optical communication, is RS code. RS is used for long-haul optical transmission as defined by ITU-T G.709 and G.975 recommendations. In this RS implementation, each codeword contains 255 code word bytes, of which 239 bytes are data and 16 bytes are parity, usually expressed as RS (255,239) with the name of Generic FEC (GFEC).  Several FEC coding schemes were recommended in ITU-T G. 975.1 for high bit-rate dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) submarine systems in the second-generation of FEC codes. The common mechanism for increased NCG was the use of concatenated coding schemes with iterative hard-decision decoding. The most commonly-implemented example is the Enhanced FEC (EFEC) from G.975.1 Clause I.4 for 10G and 40G optical interfaces.

At the 100 Gbps data rate, CableLabs has adopted Hard-Decision (HD) Staircase FEC, defined in ITU-T G.709.2 and included in the CableLabs P2P Coherent Optics Physical Layer v1.0 (PHYv1.0) Specification. This Staircase FEC, also known as high-gain FEC (HG-FEC), is the first coherent FEC that provides an NCG of 9.38 dB with the pre-FEC BER of 4.5E-3. The 100G line-side interoperability has been verified in the very first CableLabs’ Point-to-Point (P2P) Coherent Optics Interoperability Event.

At the 200 Gbps data rate, openFEC (oFEC) was selected in CableLabs most-recent release of P2P Coherent Optics PHYv2.0 Specification. The oFEC provides an NCG of 11.1 dB for Quadrature Phase-Shift Keying (QPSK) with pre-FEC BER of 2E-2 and 11.6 dB for 16QAM format after 3 soft-decision iterations to cover multiple use cases. This oFEC was also standardized by Open ROADM targeting metro applications.

Although CableLabs has not specified 400G coherent optical transport, the Optical Interworking Forum (OIF) has adopted a 400G concatenated FEC (cFEC) with soft-decision inner Hamming code and hard-decision outer Staircase code in its 400G ZR standard; this same FEC has been selected as a baseline proposal in the IEEE 802.3ct Task Force. This 400G implementation agreement (IA) provides an NCG of 10.8 dB and pre-FEC BER of 1.22E-2 for coherent dual-polarized 16QAM modulation format specially for the Data Center Interconnection (DCI).

The following table summarizes performance metrics for standardized FEC in optical fiber transmission systems.

A-Primer-on-the-Essential-Element-for-Optical-Transmissio

CableLabs is the first specification organization to demonstrate 100G coherent optics interoperability with a significant level of participants. Please register for our next coherent optics interoperability testing.


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Wireless

5G Link Aggregation with Multipath TCP (MPTCP)

Omkar Dharmadhikari
Wireless Architect

Apr 3, 2019

The unprecedented growth of data traffic and the number of connected devices has made it evident that the current end-to-end host-centric communication paradigm will not be able to meet user demand for massive data rates and low latency. The wireless industry is constantly pushing technology frontiers to cope with this increasing user demand.

The advent of the fifth-generation cellular architecture (5G), along with the evolving LTE and Wi-Fi networks, will boost the ability of the wireless industry to support the new connected reality. The heterogeneous environment, with multiple access networks coexisting, will require end devices to connect to all available wireless access networks to efficiently use the available network resources and spectrum. The use of multi-homing by deploying multi-interface connectivity at the wireless edge of the network has become increasingly prominent. One of the most widely adopted, practically implemented multihoming techniques is Multipath TCP (MPTCP). With successful deployments of MPTCP by some wireless operators aggregating diverse wireless access technologies such as LTE and Wi-Fi, the use of MPTCP has been considered a base feature for 5G.

Multipath TCP (MPTCP)

Traditional TCP is a single-path protocol.  An established TCP connection is bound to a specific IP address between the communicating nodes. The wireless industry was motivated to come up with MPTCP because all next-generation networks are multipath (where mobile devices have multiple wireless interfaces), data centers have multiple paths between servers, and multihoming has become the norm.

MPTCP, a proxy-based aggregation solution led by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is simply an overlay network to the underlying IP network. MPTCP is an extension of traditional TCP, ensuring application compatibility (i.e., the ability to run applications on MPTCP that run on TCP) and network compatibility (i.e., the ability to operate MPTCP over any Internet path where TCP operates). MPTCP allows multiple paths to be used simultaneously by a single transport connection.

MPTCP in 5G

MPTCP is now an integral part of 5G mobile networks as a standard feature of 3GPP Release 16. The 3GPP 5G mobile core features Access Traffic Steering, Switching and Splitting (ATSSS) and has officially standardized on MPTCP as a foundational capability. ATSSS allows operators to direct traffic through certain access networks, switch traffic across access networks and aggregate traffic over multiple access networks. Continuous user experience with higher throughout is delivered as the mobile device moves around and among access network technologies such as 5G NR, Wi-Fi and others. The following diagram illustrates how ATSSS is integrated into the 5G mobile core and 5G mobile device.

5G-Link-Aggregation

The user equipment (UE), or mobile device, contains the MPTCP client and ATSSS rules, which instruct the UE how to configure and execute MPTCP operations. The 5G core User Plane Function (UPF) contains the MPTCP proxy. Traffic from applications is directed to the UPF, which then invokes multi-path traffic management toward the UE. 5G RAN and WLAN access networks are portrayed above to carry separate MPTCP traffic flows. The UE provides measurement reports to the UPF such that switching, or traffic aggregation balance decisions made by the UPF, can be done with UE input. This completes the MPTCP user traffic management plane.

The Unified Data Management (UDM) contains the mobile subscriptions, which includes ATSSS as a subscribed feature. The Policy Control Function (PCF) applies policy to traffic flows arranged under the MPTCP user plane as managed by the Session Management Function (SMF).

In summary, MPTCP will be a fully integrated and standard feature within 3GPP Release 16. MPTCP implementation can be enhanced with dual connectivity, software-defined networking and segment routing.

MPTCP with 5G Dual Connectivity (DC)

Introduced in 3GPP Release 15, DC is a feature that allows data exchange between mobile devices and the NR base station, with simultaneous connection to an LTE base station when tight interworking is established between LTE and the 5G NR base station.

The current DC architecture does not support backup and packet duplication to address the latency and out-of-order packet delivery issues with DC. The existing DC algorithm needs enhancements to dynamically select the best available path for a given radio condition considering the ongoing traffic and congestion levels to optimally use each radio link.

MPTCP—composed of path manager, schedular and congestion control mechanism—can address these issues. By integrating MPTCP with the DC and 5G protocol stack to make MPTCP implementation aware of all available network interfaces, the full potential of link aggregation can be realized.

MPTCP Path Control Using Software Defined Networking (SDN)

SDN addresses the issue of out-of-order packet delivery with MPTCP when multiple radio links have varying delays by tracking the available capacity and selecting the best available path considering the varying network conditions. With an SDN-enabled network, an SDN application running on an MPTCP client can monitor data rates on connected paths to identify poor links that increase the number of packets that need reordering. The paths with relatively lower capacity can be removed from link aggregation consideration with MPTCP and can be added back with the availability of sufficiently larger capacity. Using an SDN controller, the capacity over multiple radio links can be estimated, allowing MPTCP to dynamically control the sub-flows.

MPTCP with Segment Routing (SR)

Unlike traditional routers, which forward IP packets by looking up the destination IP address in the IP header and find the best path towards the destination from the routing table, SR leverages the source-based routing model. Similar to labels in Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), segment routing uses segments, which are instructions that a router executes on the incoming packet. With SR, the source router chooses a path to the destination and encodes the path in the packet header as an ordered list of instructions (segments).

The flow allocation mechanism of SDN-based MPTCP solutions increases the forwarding rules, consuming a lot of storage resources. Combining MPTCP and SR for traffic management will limit the storage requirements.

The Role of CableLabs

CableLabs is an active contributor to 3GPP Release 16 work items that leverage MPTCP via ATSSS. CableLabs has worked with our member operators to bring contributions into 3GPP that address traffic bonding to fixed customer premise equipment (CPE) and mobile devices for higher performance and service availability. Other use cases of interest include the continuous user experience across access networks. CableLabs has been active in 3GPP to drive member requirements into work items that leverage ATSSS for the sake of member priority use cases and member requirements are now part of the 5G standard in 3GPP Release 16.


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Events

The Future of Extended Reality

Eric Klassen
Executive Producer

Mar 27, 2019

The Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) has become one of the most influential and innovative film festivals in the United States. It might seem strange that CableLabs, a core technology company, was invited to participate in the festival’s creative conversations about the future of narrative media. Technology and the arts have always fed off of each other, but every once in a while, a generational disruption defines a new paradigm for both of them.

XR Panel

The festival’s panel on extended reality (XR) experience was hosted by Mark Read, founder of Hypercube, and I was honored to share the stage with Jeff Orlowski, Emmy-winning filmmaker, and Brenda Lee, founder, and CEO of Reality Garage. The panel discussed XR as a term that identifies how real-and-virtual environments are combined, whether it be mostly virtual as in virtual reality (VR), or more combined as in mixed reality, and the ever-improving technologies that make immersive media environments possible and how they can be experienced.

Extended-Reality-Future

Discussions explored current immersive technologies, such as 360VR (looking in all directions in a static position), 6 Degrees of Freedom or 6DoF (looking and moving about in all directions and positions), augmented and mixed reality (looking through glasses to see digital media interacting with physical surroundings), and light field holographic displays (looking at true 3D volumetric media without glasses), as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and how it might be used within these environments.

The Importance of Narratives

The panel dove into what’s currently working and not working with XR, especially concerning narratives. One theme, consistent across the panel, was that immersive experiences feel much more real. Seeing a lion in VR gives the user a much more tangible experience of the animal compared with viewing it on a flat screen. But the novelty of these experiences tends to be short-lived, partly because the headsets required for them are still too bulky and off-putting, but mostly because the narrative quality of today’s titles are not compelling enough to move the needle on mass consumer adoption.

Millions of people love to watch The Lion King. It doesn’t matter that the lions aren’t real, or that the audience can’t walk around a scene. The quality of the narrative experience is what consumers demand, and that quality comes from over a century of evolution of how to tell compelling visual stories in the cinematic arts.

Games are the same way: Using 6DoF to move around inside of a game is not what causes gamers to return to their favorite titles. The 6DoF experience is compelling for a little while, but for most people, the flat screen comes back after the novelty of the XR has passed.

New Paradigm

For XR today, there’s a big gap between what the technology can do versus what consumers will pay for, but it was unanimous that this is temporary. The clunky headsets, the limited environments and haptics (physical feedback), the dumb characters and dialogue are all just stepping stones toward smarter and more compelling immersive systems.

The field of XR, as a narrative craft, is in its infancy and requires a new creative paradigm to move forward. XR can be compared with the sophistication of the first film 120 years ago, when an edit had not yet been conceived, much less the use of different camera angles. In the gaming industry, XR is comparable to Atari’s Pong, before the  2-D joystick control made more innovative games possible. What set of technologies and content will move the needle of XR forward to mass consumer adoption?

This is a new era in the digital media ecosystem. Gaming was the first content evolution from passive television which led to the interactive explosion of gaming today, and now there’s another kind of experience on its way. The new paradigm of the consumer experience is moving from controlling the content to being with the content.

What CableLabs is Doing

These ideas are not science fiction: CableLabs is working with a diverse group of industry leaders to standardize the format for network delivery of immersive media. This includes developing interoperable interfaces and exchange formats that will be shared by the ecosystem of capture-and-display manufacturers, network providers and content creators. With the capacity of the 10G network, extended reality will scale to hundreds of millions of consumers across the US.

What does an XR industry ecosystem look like at mass consumer adoption? This is the question that’s getting the attention of the cable industry, and it’s why we’re working directly with creatives as well as everybody else in the ecosystem: to create the future.


Learn More About 10G

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Wireless

Mobility Lab Webinar #3: Inter-Operator Mobility with CBRS

Omkar Dharmadhikari
Wireless Architect

Mar 21, 2019

The emergence of spectrum sharing with Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) has unlocked opportunities for new entrants including traditional multiple service operators (MSOs) to provide mobile service. CBRS networks will use low power small cells which inherently provides short distance coverage and thus target deployment in high traffic areas. Operators will likely have to rely on macro-cell network coverage to compensate for mobile service outside CBRS network coverage. Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreements are a common solution to support this strategy. Mobility and roaming between MSO-owned CBRS network and mobile network operator (MNO) owned licensed LTE network could potentially become a hurdle for MSOs with the need to share roaming interfaces and the need to have mobility parameters configured on both networks.

Inter-Operator-Mobility

Inter-operator mobility with CBRS can be achieved with two 3GPP standardized roaming models for inter-operator mobility, each posing different challenges, benefits and tradeoffs to MSOs:

Home Routed (HR)

HR is ideal for MSOs who have a strong relationship with an MNO where sharing multiple interfaces and configuring mobility parameters is not an issue. HR benefits MSOs by enabling seamless connected mode mobility for subscribers while transitioning between the two operators but incurs high latency with user traffic being routed back to the home network.

Local Break Out (LBO)

LBO is ideal for MSOs who desire the least dependency on the MNO and plan to offer only data services with CBRS. Voice service offering with LBO implementation can degrade user experience because service disruption is expected during network transition with no S10 interface sharing. LBO, however, offers efficient routing in terms on bandwidth and latency as the user traffic is serviced by the visitor network.

CableLabs conducted testing to analyze requirements for the two 3GPP based roaming models with regards to network infrastructure, roaming interfaces, mobility configuration and mobility triggers. The testing documents key findings and observations that could assist MSOs to evaluate the benefits and challenges offered by the two roaming models.

Register for our Webinar

CableLabs is hosting another webinar as part of the “Mobility Lab Webinar Series” on “Inter-Operator Mobility with CBRS”, scheduled for April 16th, 2019.

The webinar provides:

    • An understanding of 3GPP based network implementations for roaming used for inter-operator mobility along with their benefits and tradeoffs
    • An overview of inter-operator mobility testing at CableLabs
    • A brief description of alternate implementations that could overcome challenges faced with 3GPP based network Implementations for roaming
    • A lab demonstration of connected mode handover using Home Routed (HR) model between MSO owned CBRS network and MNO owned licensed LTE network

Register for our Webinar

In case you missed our previous webinars, you can find them below:

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Summer Conference

Collaborate, Share and Learn at Summer Conference 2019

Mar 19, 2019

With the beautiful Colorado summer fast approaching, we’re ramping up preparations for our  annual three-day Summer Conference in Keystone—a place we like to call “Faster, Together.” It’s where professionals from all corners of cable gather to reflect on the state of the industry, sneak a peek into the future and exchange ideas on how to get there faster.

Join us this summer and find out how you can:

  • Get on the same page with the cable community

The agenda is packed with insightful keynotes, panel discussions and product showcases designed to give you a sense of what’s happening around the industry. The event sessions cover two tracks: innovation and technical. On the innovation side, you’ll learn more about emerging technologies and find out how your company’s roadmap measures up with industry trends. On the technical side, you’ll delve deeper into how things work and how the global industry can join forces to overcome its current technical obstacles.

  • Step out of your comfort zone

Many of us are goal-oriented introverts by nature. Great for hitting deadlines, but it’s time to take a break from the office and open your mind to new ideas, even if they come from people who have nothing to do with your line of work. Or do they? In the past we’ve invited speakers from all walks of life—writers, illustrators and even poker players—to share success strategies that you can easily apply in your career.

  • Build valuable business connections

Tap into a powerful network of operators, vendors, startups and industry experts who share a vision of the connected future built on advanced cable technologies. Every session, project meeting or coffee break is a potential networking opportunity.

  • Show off your work

It doesn’t matter if it came from the mind of a Fortune 500 CEO or a maverick innovator with big dreams, every great idea deserves a moment in the spotlight. Book a slot in Tek Stadium™ to showcase your company’s product and get invaluable feedback from hundreds of industry professionals.

  • Attend exclusive meetings

Attend project meetings that are focused on new technologies and getting them widely deployed sooner. Project meetings are for cable operator members only. 

New Decade, New Possibilities

We’re excited to announce that starting in 2020 we are launching an all-new annual event—with a new purpose, agenda and location—to serve the growing needs of the cable community in the new decade and beyond. And since at CableLabs innovation never stops, we’re going bigger and bolder than ever before!

This also means that this year’s Summer Conference will be our last. Don’t miss your opportunity to attend this event—be sure to click below to learn more information and be notified when registration opens!


Stay Warm With Updates
 

Event Info

Where:

Keystone Conference Center

633 Tennis Club Rd, Dillon CO

Hosted by: CableLabs

When: August 5-7, 2019

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