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Wireless

Converged Carriers, Femtocells and Spectral Efficiency: Rethinking the Traditional Outdoor Small Cell Deployment

Joey Padden
Distinguished Technologist, Wireless

Nov 15, 2018

With the release of any new generation, or “G,” in the cellular world, the goal is always to outperform the previous generation when it comes to spectral efficiency—that is, how many bits you can pack into your slice of airwaves. To telecom nerds, this is expressed as bits per second per hertz (bps/Hz). Going from 3G to 5G, peak spectral efficiency skyrockets from 1.3 bps/Hz with 3G, to 16 bps/Hz with 4G LTE , to 30 bps/Hz with LTE-A, and to a truly eye-watering 145 bps/Hz with 5G (in the lab).

And it makes sense: Spectrum is an expensive and limited resource. Operators pay billions for every MHz they can acquire.

Not What It Seems

Unfortunately, the reality of spectral efficiency in deployed mobile networks is far less stratospheric. A 2017 study pegged spectral efficiencies for a live LTE network at roughly 1 bps/Hz on average with a peak of about 5.5 bps/Hz. So where did all that spectral efficiency go?

The short answer is that it ran smack into a wall. Literally! In 2016, ABI Research Director Nick Marshall said that “more than 80 percent of all traffic [is] originating or terminating indoors,” and we serve the vast majority of that traffic with outdoor cells.

The Inertia of Tradition

In the push toward 5G, we hear a lot about network densification. So far, given the amount of effort going into changing the siting rules, it sounds like the plan is to deploy more outdoor cells to help increase spectral efficiency in 5G networks. In a recent RCR Wireless News article, the headline read “US outdoor small cell antenna shipments to grow by 75% in 2018: Study” citing a study by EJL Wireless Research.

Putting aside the immense issues facing the economics of that approach (more on that in the next blog post covering our TCO analysis), it still relies on an architecture of deploying outdoor cells to handle a largely indoor traffic load. It still puts literal barriers in the way of increased spectral efficiency.

Airtime Perspective

Let’s quantify this issue a bit to make sure we have a shared perspective on the system capacity impact of using outdoor cells to handle indoor traffic because it’s a big deal.

Small cell DOCSIS

Sending a typical video packet from an outdoor cell to an outdoor user takes 33 resource blocks, whereas sending that same frame to a deep indoor user can take 209 resource blocks (1500B IP packet, I_TBS 3 vs I_TBS 19, TM2 with 2TRx)! On average, it takes seven times more airtime resources to serve an indoor user than an outdoor user.

Given the inefficiency, why are we still trying to cross the walls?

User Behavior

It’s probably not news to anyone that indoor penetration is costly. A common industry view says that when a user is indoors, his or her data should be served by Wi-Fi to offload the burden on the cellular network. Industry reports are produced every year showing that large amounts of traffic from mobile devices are offloaded to Wi-Fi networks (e.g., ~80 percent in 2017).

However, as the industry moves toward unlimited data plans, and as mobile speeds increase, the incentives for seeking out Wi-Fi for offload are diminishing. A recent CableLabs Strategy Brief (CableLabs membership login required) provides empirical data showing that Wi-Fi data offload is declining as adoption of unlimited data plans increases. The trend, across all age groups, shows increased cellular data usage. So as demand for cellular data is going up, an increasing portion is going to be crossing the walls.

There are a number of long-held complaints about the Wi-Fi user experience. I won’t enumerate them here, but I’ll point out that as the incentives to offload data to Wi-Fi are weakened, even the slightest hiccup in the Wi-Fi user experience will drive a user away from that offload opportunity at the expense of your cellular system capacity.

Introducing Low-Cost Femtocells

There’s a growing breed of operator that has both cellular operations and traditional cable hybrid fiber coax (HFC) infrastructure—a big wired network and a big wireless network (Note: here I am talking about full MNOs with HFC/DOCSIS networks, not MVNOs. MVNOs with HFC/DOCSIS networks will have different goals in what optimizing looks like). For these operators, the carrots of convergence dangle in all directions.

Over the past couple of years, CableLabs has ramped up efforts to solve the technology issues that have traditionally hindered convergence. Latency concerns for backhaul or vRAN fronthaul can be resolved by the innovative Bandwidth Report project. CableLabs leadership in the TIP vRAN Fronthaul project is making latency-tolerant fronthaul protocols a reality. Timing and synchronization challenges presented by indoor deployments are months away from commercialization, thanks to CableLabs’ new synchronization spec.

The summation of these projects (and more on the way) provides a suite of tools that converged operators can leverage to deploy mobile services over their HFC/DOCSIS network.

Enter the femtocell deployment model. Femtocells aren’t new, but with the new technologies developed by CableLabs, for the first time, they can be done right. Gone are the days of failed GPS lock, poor handover performance, and interference issues (topics of our 3rd blog in this series). From a spectral and economic viewpoint, femtocells over DOCSIS are poised to be the most efficient deployment model for 4G evolution and 5G cellular densification.

Wi-Fi Precedence

Take Wi-Fi as a guide to how femtocells can improve spectral efficiency. Modern Wi-Fi routers—even cheap home routers—regularly provide devices with physical link rates approaching 10 bps/Hz. That is a huge gain over the sub-1 bps/Hz achieved using an outdoor cell to serve an indoor user. In such a scenario, the benefits are myriad and shared between the user and the operator: The user experience is dramatically improved, the operator sees huge savings in outdoor system capacity, and it all occurs with more favorable economics compared to traditional small cell strategy.

When selectively deployed alongside home Wi-Fi hotspots, indoor femtocells give the converged operator the chance to capture the majority of indoor traffic with an indoor radio, freeing the outdoor radio to better serve outdoor traffic.

More Discussion to Come

In this post, I talked about the spectral efficiency problems of traditional outdoor small cell deployments and how a femtocell deployment model can address them. Next time, I’ll discuss a total cost of ownership (TCO) model for femtocells over a DOCSIS network, both full-stack and vRAN-based solutions.

And don’t take my word for it! Stay tuned to the CableLabs blog over the next couple months for more discussions about cellular deployments over a DOCSIS network.


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Security

Micronets: Enterprise-Level Security Is No Longer Just For Enterprises

Darshak Thakore
Lead Software Architect

Nov 14, 2018

Today we are introducing CableLabs® Micronets, a framework that simplifies and helps secure increasingly complex home and small business networks.

As we add devices to our networks such as cell phones, computers, printers, thermostats, appliances, lights and even medical monitors, our networks become more susceptible to intrusions. Micronets automatically segments devices into separate, policy-driven trust domains to help protect the devices, data and the user. Agile and easy-to-use, Micronets gives consumers increased protection and control of their local network without overwhelming them with technical details. Micronets reduces the risks associated with vulnerable devices but is not a substitute for strong device security.

The Micronets Advantage: Smart Security and Ease of Use

CableLabs Micronets is an advanced network management framework that utilizes three components to provide enhanced security:

Automated Networked Devices: While CableLabs is not the first organization to introduce the concept of network segmentation, Micronets’ primary advantage is in its implementation. The Micronets framework uses advanced mechanisms like device fingerprinting and Manufacture Usage Definitions (MUD) to intelligently group networked devices into dynamically managed trust domains or “micronets.”

For example, children’s devices are assigned to one micronet, home automation on another and so on. If one device is compromised, devices on the other micronets will not be visible to the attacker. The system will automatically quarantine the infected device, minimizing the risk to the network and other connected devices. While the system is largely autonomous, the user has the visibility and control to adjust trust domains and add new devices.

Seamless User Experience: Micronets provides a layer of dynamic management and secure credential provisioning that hides the complexity associated with network orchestration and focuses on improving the user experience. It’s a self-organizing platform that’s very easy to use and control which is a major benefit to an average customer who lacks the time and knowledge required for manual network administration.

Adaptive Devices: The Micronets framework also includes an intelligence layer that manages the connectivity between the individual trust domains, the Internet and third-party provider services. Because security threats continuously evolve, Micronets is built to evolve as well. State-of-the-art identity management and cloud-based intelligence technologies, like machine learning and neural networks, are leveraged to provide adaptive security that can evolve over the years, thereby providing a solution that will work for today’s as well as tomorrow’s needs.

Another benefit that Micronets can provide is enhanced security for highly sensitive devices or applications, through secure network extension via APIs. For example, Micronets can be used to establish a secure, end-to-end network connection between an Internet-connected medical device, like a glucose tester, and the cloud services of a healthcare provider. This enhanced capability provides confidentiality, integrity and availability of the medical device and the healthcare data to and from the device.

Micronets provides features, such as network isolation, similar to 5G network slicing but can operate across Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Micronets is focused on security of private networks (e.g., home networks and SMB networks) where 5G slicing is focused on different service segment performance levels of end to end networks. Since Micronets is an overlay technology, it’s compatible with existing networks, even 5G slicing, where 5G slicing is dependent on the broad deployment of the underlying 5G technologies.

Under the Hood: A Deeper Dive into How Micronets Works

Micronets has five major architectural components:

  • Intelligent Services and Business Logic: This layer acts as the interface for the Micronets platform to interact with the rest of the world. It functions as a receiver of the user’s intent and business rules from the user’s services and combines them into operational decisions that are handed over to the Micronets Manager for execution.
  • Micronets Manager: This critical element orchestrates all Micronets activities, especially flow switching rules between the home network, cable operator and third-party providers that allow the delivery of services. It also provides controls that allow the user to interact with the Micronets platform.
  • Micronets Gateway: Micronets Gateway could be a cable modem, router, wireless access point, or LTE hub/femtocell. It’s a core networking component that uses Software Defined Networking (SDN) to define how Micronets services interact with the home network. It also oversees the entire device profile on the user network—both wired and wireless.
  • The Home Network: All the devices on the customer’s home or SMB network are automatically organized into appropriate trust domains—or micronets—using the device identity and SDN based logic. However, the customer can always make manual changes through a user-friendly Micronets interface.
  • Micronets API: Operator partners and third-party operators can interact with the Micronet manager via secure APIs. Micronets ensure that third-party devices and services are secured through mutual authenticated and encrypted communications channels.

Micronets Enterprise Level Security

The Rollout: Getting Micronets In Homes and Business

  • White Paper: Our white paper lays out the vision and architecture of Micronets in greater detail.
  • Industry Partnerships: We’re working with our industry partners and cable operator members to bring Micronets to consumers. We are also working on implementing an easy-onboarding framework that builds on top of features from the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA), namely EasyConnect, WPA3 security and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Manufacturer Usage Description framework to enable the secure and seamless configuration and on-boarding of consumer devices. We are also leading the development of a secure interoperability specification for IoT devices in the Open Connectivity Foundation, and with Micronets, we’re making significant strides to simplifying and securing increasingly complex networks.
  • Code: We are releasing the reference code, currently under development, to the open source community in the coming months.
  • Government Collaboration: We’re participating in and supporting government efforts like NIST’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence project on mitigating botnets in home and small business networks.
  • Our Members and Vendors: We are planning on developing and publishing specifications for standardized API’s for advanced security services based on machine learning and device fingerprinting in collaboration with our members and vendors.

CableLabs has long been a leader in the development of security technologies for the delivery of video and broadband Internet access services. With Micronets we are bringing our expertise to the growing world of connected devices, for which security is a shared responsibility across the Internet ecosystem.  Micronets helps mitigate the risks associated with insecure IoT, but is not a substitute for or alternative to the ongoing efforts to drive increased device security, to prevent vulnerabilities at their source.

Download our white paper by clicking below or learn more here.

Micronets White Paper

Interested in working with the CableLabs team or hearing more about Micronets? Contact Darshak Thakore (d.thakore@cablelabs.com).

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Wireless

Operators Now Have the (ad)Vantage™

Mark Poletti
Director, Wireless Network Technologies

Nov 9, 2018

The first Wi-Fi–certified Vantage™ Access Point device became commercially available last month. This is a milestone because it means the Wi-Fi industry is beginning to incorporate carrier-grade Wi-Fi features into Wi-Fi devices. This will benefit operators’ ability to better manage Wi-Fi networks, which—in turn—will benefit users by delivering an elevated quality of experience.

The Wi-Fi Alliance conceived Vantage™ (the Wi-Fi Alliance’s brand name for carrier-grade Wi-Fi) as a way to provide solutions to operator needs in conjunction with priorities set by Wi-Fi device vendors. Many of the Wi-Fi devices today use IEEE 802.11 features in their baseline design yet implement proprietary features to enhance performance and provide product differentiation. Although this can be beneficial to the user, it can also lead to inconsistent performance if users utilize a variety of Wi-Fi devices with different feature enhancements.

Vantage™ devices attempt to overcome this potential inconsistency by introducing a common set of 802.11 features to meet common operator needs. Such needs include:

  • Enhancements to network connection
  • Connection times
  • Network attachment
  • Faster speeds—most important in high-density, dynamic Wi-Fi network environments that have a high concentration of users.

For example, have you ever experienced slower data speeds on a Wi-Fi network when people exit at a subway station stop? Or lose your connection while waiting at an airport gate when a high volume of passengers deboard? Or find that the text you sent is delayed at a baseball game during the 7th inning stretch?

Vantage™ leverages these key technologies into a single device as a basis for its solution to operator needs:

  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac: high-performance, dual-band operation
  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint®: secure, light-touch authentication
  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Agile Multiband™: efficient use of spectrum, smart steering
  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Optimized Connectivity™: improved roaming, efficient transmissions

Wi-Fi Vantage™ devices offer features that provide automatic, seamless, secure access to Wi-Fi networks and mechanisms for efficient use of spectrum and network resources in densely populated, dynamic environments. It also allows operators to deliver an elevated user experience, increased data rates and the ability to allow more devices to operate on the same network without sacrificing performance. 

CableLabs’ joint leadership with the operator community (mobile and cable operators) created the vision and roadmap for the Vantage™ program while partnering with the Wi-Fi ecosystem. The Vantage™ certification process has been completed, and the operators and industry are now waiting for more Vantage™ Access Points and user devices to become commercially available to improve managed Wi-Fi networks and deliver optimal user experience.

To learn more about Vantage™ in the future, subscribe to our blog. 


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Wireless

Mobility Lab Webinar Recap and Q&A: CBRS Neutral Host Network using Multi-Operator Core Network

Omkar Dharmadhikari
Wireless Architect

Nov 7, 2018

Last week, we hosted the first webinar in our mobility lab series “CBRS Neutral Host Network using Multiple Operator Core Network.” In case you missed it, you can read about the webinar in this blog or scroll down for the links to the video and Q&A.

Background: CableLabs Mobility Lab Webinar Series

The FCC established Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), a 3.5GHz shared spectrum, to alleviate the shortage of frequencies available for wireless communication services. From an operator perspective, propagation characteristics of the CBRS band are a good fit with low-powered small cells, which can provide a capacity boost and fill in the coverage holes for both indoor and outdoor scenarios. With CBRS General Authorized Access (GAA) deployments on the verge of seeing the light by early 2019, wireless operators are investigating ways to utilize newly allocated CBRS band.

Neutral Host Network (NHN) is a CBRS use case which is attractive for mobile operators, cable operators and new entrants because it:

  • Lowers expenses of buying licensed spectrum
  • Lowers investments in building network infrastructure
  • Lowers initial roll-out costs of operating and managing new deployments

With NHN deployments operating in shared spectrum, such as CBRS, there is no need to coordinate radio frequency network planning between the multiple operators sharing the neutral host access network.

Mobility Lab Webinar #1: CBRS NHN Use Case Using Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN)

Leveraging our in-house mobility lab, we built test setups for several CBRS use cases. The first webinar demonstrates a CBRS use case which utilizes a 3GPP deployment model, called Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN), where an operator shares its access network and spectrum with other operators. This use case can be a viable alternative to conventional single operator owned network infrastructure.

The webinar provides:

  • An overview of Network Sharing, Active Network Sharing, MOCN and CBRS
  • Description of CBRS NHN use case and its deployment scenarios
  • Lab demonstration of CBRS NHN use case

Our upcoming webinars will showcase the various mobility lab projects we are working on. For any questions, please feel free to reach out to Wireless Architect Omkar Dharmadhikari. You can view the first webinar here and click the link below to download a copy of the Q&A.

Download the First Mobility Lab Webinar Q&A

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Policy

The Gigabit Internet Dream Continues to Expand

Mark Walker
Director, Technology Policy

Nov 1, 2018

Cable gigabit service availability continues to expand – as of June 2018, 63% of U.S. housing units – 74% of the cable broadband footprint – had gigabit service or better available from their local cable operator. This is up seven percentage points in just three months and has expanded by 16X in 18 months. Cable is making the gigabit Internet dream a reality. Coincident with this update of the cable industry’s gigabit deployment data, we are also releasing a new installment in our Inform[ED] Insights series that explains the technology that enables these gigabit networks.

 

Gigabit Speeds Q2 Data

Cable’s deployment of high-capacity broadband networks is enabling the gigabit services of today and the symmetric multi-gigabit services of tomorrow. With the wide availability of gigabit service and beyond, the broadband infrastructure is in place to power emerging technologies that will transform and enhance our lives through immersive entertainment, next-generation healthcare and a reimagination of education and work.

CableLabs and the cable industry are continuing to advance the capacity and performance in each segment of the cable broadband network to remain well-ahead of consumer demand. We are focused on developing innovative network technologies in the areas of coax (e.g., DOCSIS 3.1 and full duplex DOCSIS), fiber (e.g., coherent optics in the access network), and wireless (e.g., Wi-Fi and 5G), as well as defining optimal network architectures to provide the necessary capacity and performance in each segment of the network for today’s gigabit services and those anticipated in the future.

Ready to see how the cable industry is driving gigabit speeds from the lab to the consumer? Click on the link below to download our new Inform[ED] Insights white paper.


Driving Gigabit Speed: From Lab to Consumer

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Innovation

IPoC: A New Core Networking Protocol for 5G Networks

Greg White
Distinguished Technologist, Network Technologies

Oct 29, 2018

5G is the latest iteration of cellular network technology developed to meet the growing traffic demand for both smartphones and homes. With beamforming and frequency bands reaching millimeter waves, 5G promises many benefits:

  • Higher speeds
  • Lower latency
  • The ability to connect many more devices

However, current de jure standards and protocols, designed for earlier technologies, have the potential to dilute these promises. To address the limitations of current networks, CableLabs developed the IP over CCN (IPoC) protocol, a compelling new solution to meet the new, more robust requirements of 5G.

Why a New Solution?

The primary goal of the fourth generation (4G or LTE) technology was access to the Internet, so the technology utilized IP networking, the packet routing technology historically and currently used in the Internet.

IP networking has been around since the mid-1970s and has served us remarkably well, but it isn’t without flaws. The purpose of the Internet Protocol is to allow a computer at one fixed location in the network to exchange information with another computer at a fixed location in the network.  For mobile devices (that clearly aren’t at a fixed location) this has never been a great fit, and LTE technology had to develop complicated IP over IP tunneling mechanisms (the LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC)) to enable mobility.

Furthermore, in the majority of cases, a mobile application wants to fetch specific data (say the text and images of a blog post) but doesn’t really care which computer it talks to in order to get it. As a result, to improve network efficiency and performance, network operators (both mobile and fixed) have implemented complex Content Distribution Networks in order to try to redirect the mobile application to the nearest server or cache that has the requested data.

In LTE-EPC, all of a user’s IP traffic is tunneled through a centralized choke point (or anchor) in the mobile operator’s core network, which eliminates the ability to serve data from a nearby cache. Also, as a mobile device moves in the network, the EPC needs to create new tunnels and tear down old ones in order to ensure that the user’s data reaches them.

These limitations are widely acknowledged by standards-setting groups. They are currently soliciting input to introduce new protocols that will pave the way for 5G to meet the demands of next-generation technologies, specifically:

  • Improve the efficiency and performance of the network mobility plane, compared to today’s LTE standards,
  • Support non-IP network protocols, of which Content Centric Networking is a leading candidate.

Benefits of Content Centric Networking

Content Centric Networking: A networking paradigm that emphasizes content by making it directly addressable and routable. Learn more here.

CCN offers several key advantages over IP networking:

  • It employs “stateful forwarding” which elegantly and efficiently supports information retrieval by mobile client devices without the need for tunneling or a location registration protocol
  • It addresses content directly rather than addressing end hosts, which means that it enables in-network caching, processing and intelligent packet forwarding, allowing it to excel in content retrieval optimization, allowing data to be easily retrieved from an on-path cache
  • It supports a client device using multiple network attachments (e.g., radio links) simultaneously, providing greater reliability and performance.
  • Its design meets the needs of large-data and IoT applications

For many new applications, CCN provides a much better fit for purpose than the Internet Protocol.

IP over CCN (IPoC): A New Way to Handle IP

In spite of the significant improvements Content Centric Networking offers over current IP networking, the reality is that all of today’s applications, both client and server, are built to use IP networking. We developed IPoC as the solution to this issue. IP over CCN (IPoC) protocol is a general-purpose tunneling protocol that enables delivery of IP traffic over a Content Centric Network (CCN) or a Named Data Network (NDN).

IPoC enables deployment of CCN as the core networking protocol for 5G, both for new, native CCN applications and as a mobility plane for existing IP applications, replacing the LTE-EPC. As a result, IPoC saves the IP investment and allows a full transition to the new CCN protocol.

With this approach:

  • Native CCN applications reap the benefits of tunnel-free anchorless networking, along with the latency and efficiency gains that come from in-network caching.
  • Existing IP-based applications can be supported with a mobility management solution that is simpler than the existing LTE-EPC. Gone are the special-purpose tunnel management functions that create and destroy tunnels as mobile devices move in the network.
  • The need for network slicing to accommodate both IP and CCN and the complications and overhead entailed in running two core networks in parallel are eliminated.

IPoC Performance in Mobile Networks

With the assistance of two PhD students from Colorado State University, we developed simulation models and conducted performance and efficiency testing of the protocol in comparison to LTE-EPC. In our simulation study, we implemented the IPoC protocol using the Named Data Networking (NDN) simulator ndnSim (which implements a CCN-like semantic) and used mobile communication as the driving example, comparing IPoC-over-NDN protocol performance against GTP-over-IP. We found that the protocol overhead and performance impact of IPoC is minimal, which makes it suitable for immediate deployment.  The report on this study includes links to the source code as well.

Want to Take a Closer Look?

IPoC can be best understood as a transition technology. Providing a shim layer and allowing CCN to act as a mobility plane for legacy IP applications, it accommodates the current protocol standards while opening the door for deployment of native CCN applications and the benefits they offer.

The 5G standardization project is seeking new mobility solutions for 5G, and we believe CCN and IPoC would be a great solution to address the needs. We have submitted a definition of the IPoC protocol as an Internet-Draft to the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Information Centric Networking Research Group. In addition, we have developed a proof-of-concept implementation of the IPoC protocol on Linux.

Interested in learning more? Subscribe to our blog and recieve updates on 5G by clicking below. 


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Kyrio

CableLabs’ Subsidiary Kyrio and SCTE•ISBE Combine Expertise

Mitchell Ashley
President & General Manager, Kyrio

Oct 26, 2018

This week Kyrio staff attended SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Cable-Tec Expo is an important event for our industry, bringing together a diverse group of technical and operational staff, technology creators, and suppliers of technologies created for use in the field—all at one industry event. It’s a way that we “connect the dots” for the broadband, wireless and security technologies Kyrio works with every day.

The testing we perform in our labs is one of the most valuable and insightful functions Kyrio provides to device manufacturers and service providers. We go to great lengths to understand how wireless and broadband technologies will perform in customers’ homes and businesses before, during and after they are deployed, often in millions of locations.

But nothing takes the place of seeing installers and technicians actually use the technologies we work with—hands on, in the real world. Frequently the best way for Kyrio staff to understand a day in the life of a field service technician or installer is to participate in a ride-along program. We do this because some of the best information about the technologies Kyrio tests in the labs is to see it in action by technicians in the field.

Now we’re taking this connect-the-dots approach to a whole new level. At Cable-Tec Expo 2018 yesterday morning, we revealed that Kyrio and SCTE•ISBE are working closely together to leverage our respective experience and knowledge in testing, certifying, securing and installing broadband and wireless equipment.

The first two areas of focus are Wi-Fi and DOCSIS® 3.1. Security is another potential area of collaboration. A cross-functional team is now being formed to solidify these areas of collaboration and provide ongoing guidance of our work together.

Kyrio will collaborate with SCTE•ISBE to create content, training and guides on the innovations on which Kyrio works. These resources will be made available to SCTE•ISBE members, enabling field and operational staff to have insight to ensure the successful deployment of technologies and their ongoing operations. Kyrio and SCTE•ISBE will also elevate problem areas experienced in the field (such as Wi-Fi in the home, for example) and share insights from the testing we perform. All of this will take the form of new videos and other educational formats for technology training and knowledge sharing. Together we can collaboratively investigate challenging issues, better understand how technology works in the field and influence testing and specifications processes during technology development.

What’s unique about this collaboration is what our two organizations bring together. SCTE•ISBE’s members are from the operational side of the business. This includes installers and technicians—people who work in the field, install the technology in customers’ homes and businesses. They have in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience seeing the technology work, which helps them develop troubleshooting techniques when challenges occur.

Kyrio works with technologies during their development, when products are ready to go to market and in cooperation with buyers and manufacturers during procurement, lab testing and field trials. Kyrio has unique insights into how the products are designed to work, how well they meet specifications, their level of interoperability with other devices and as part of the larger network, and which use cases operators and manufacturers intend to support when products are deployed.

I’m excited to be working with Mark Dzuban, President and CEO of SCTE•ISBE, to bring the capabilities of our teams together in some unique and powerful ways. Stay tuned to both Kyrio and SCTE•ISBE channels for news and updates resulting from our work together.


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Innovation

  Cable and Education: Welcome to the Classroom of the Future

Oct 25, 2018

In August we released the third installment of our vision videos: "The Near Future. Ready for Anything." In the video, we imagine a future where kids use technology to learn and solve problems and can’t wait to come back to school on Monday. Skeptical? You won’t be after you see what their classrooms might look like in the near future. Cutting-edge technology powered by multi-gigabit super networks will expand their learning environment beyond the physical walls of the school as far as their imagination goes, making education a fun, collaborative and truly enjoyable experience. Take a look for yourself!

Head-Mounted Displays: AR/VR

AR and VR technology has been gaining some traction in the last few years among gamers, but education is one area where it can really shine. No kid would ever fall asleep at their desk wearing a sleek head-mounted display! They can interact with virtual and real-life objects at their own pace, explore and discover new worlds alongside their classmates and be back in time for lunch. Now that’s a class trip we’d all look forward to.

Video Wall

We call it a wall, but this technology breaks down boundaries like no other. It creates a collaborative environment where kids from different schools and countries can interact in real time. How fun would it be to learn a new language or work on a common project with your peers who are hundreds of miles away? The learning opportunities are endless. Low latency networks powered by the cable industry are the key to making this concept a reality.

Artificial Intelligence Media

It’s a friend. It’s a guidance counselor. It’s a teacher. A future AI-powered assistant can take on all these roles and more. An invaluable addition to anyone’s day, it can interpret its owner's feelings and predict his or her needs at the right time. When it comes to education, it can be a great resource for information, giving our kids the right tools to become the best they can be.

Internet of Things

We’re already seeing the benefits of having multiple connected devices in our homes, but that’s just a start. IoT technology, such as sensors and other devices, connected to one powerful network has the potential to transform the way we learn, giving us the information we need when we need it. Imagine how much faster your class experiment will go if you could collect and interpret data in an instant? And that’s just one possible application out of many others.

Light Field Table

Fans of sci-fi will be excited to see this tech in the classroom! What if you could see digital chemistry elements suspended in the volumetric space right before your eyes? They are holographic, so you can conduct virtual experiments with simple hand gestures. All the future scientists and engineers will agree, this is one fun lab class you won’t want to miss.

Light Field Holodeck

Put all your other collaboration tools away, because this one is a game-changer. A light field holodeck can project media into volumetric virtual classroom or workspace where everyone can meet using their photorealistic avatars. Participants can work and communicate with each other as if they are in the same room even if they are miles apart in real life. With enough bandwidth, this will become the collaboration tool of the future. You can read more about how we're enabling this technology here.

There’s one requirement all these innovations have in common: a powerful broadband network. To make this vision a reality, we need multi-gigabit networking solutions that can support seamless life-like experiences. CableLabs, along with our members and partners, is working to bring these ideas to life, one innovation at a time. Check out our “Behind the Technology. The Near Future. Ready for Anything. " video in its entirety here:


Learn More About The Near Future

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Innovation

Patents and Licensing: Why It Matters

Jud Cary
Deputy General Counsel

Oct 18, 2018

Hi, Jud here. A lawyer, writing a blog. Why? Because I’ve been asked so many times about how patents and licensing works that I decided to write it all down as an element in our CableLabs Innovation Series. I tend to spend a lot of my time (understatement!) working on both patents and licensing. So, here it goes.

In this blog, I’ll use the DOCSIS cable modem specification as an example because it’s foundational to broadband -- and broadband is life, right? Those of you who’ve been around since the early days of DOCSIS, know that it’s evolved in a lot of different ways. When DOCSIS was developed it was a method for delivering Internet speeds of 37 Mbps downstream (toward homes) and 8 Mbps upstream (toward the Internet.) These days, devices based on the newest DOCSIS flavors can blast data at a rate of 10 Gigabits per second, both ways.

But that didn’t just happen. It took process, development, governance, patents and licenses.

Why are Patents Important?

Patents are actually called out in the original U.S Constitution!

Patents and Licensing

In theory and in practice, a patent protects inventive ideas for a specified and exclusive period of time. In return, the inventor agrees to disclose the invention to the public. Patents advance the general knowledge about the invention to the public. After the period of exclusivity, the public is free to use the invention to advance the technology further. As you can probably imagine, patents abound in complex technology areas such as telecommunications.

Why is Licensing Important?

Almost all standards and specifications carry an associated patent licensing requirement. That is to say, if you agree to work on and contribute to a specification, you also agree to license your patents that are essential to the implementation of that specification. This reality exists to prevent parties from inserting patented technology into a specification, then later say “gotcha!” by alleging the existence of patents that obviate your products, even though they conform to the specification. In legal-speak, this is known as a “patent hold-up.” If you’re thinking “hold up” as in “stick’’em up!” you’re in the zone.

Patents and Licensing Importance

Ideally, for the sake of technological cooperation, interoperability, and advancements in innovation, players in the industry adhere to a patent licensing policy that sets up an environment of “leave your guns at the door.” In essence, manufacturers can then implement the specifications, without the fear of being sued for patent infringement by other DOCSIS manufacturers.

Again, using DOCSIS as an example, this is precisely what its licensing agreement, arranged long ago by CableLabs, provides: all signators agree to license their standard essential patents (SEPs) to CableLabs, including the right for CableLabs to the sublicense the SEPs to all other licensed signators - all on a royalty-free basis.

How Licensing Benefits Innovation

Licensing arrangements also create a nurturing environment for technological development, within which all parties can innovate, because all are free to build on everyone else’s technology -- again, without fear of later having to pony up unforeseen patent royalties.

The DOCSIS licensing arrangement fostered by CableLabs in the mid-’90s was and is a significant catalyst in the development, implementation, and widespread adoption of the DOCSIS platform. In all, this gun-free, royalty-free DOCSIS licensing environment consists of more than 200 signators!  (In licensing terms, that’s a lot.)

Taking another approach: RAND

Many other typical telecommunications standards (e.g., 3GPP, Wi-Fi and DSL) were generally developed under a “reasonable and non-discriminatory,” or “RAND” patent policy. A RAND patent policy allows participants to collect “reasonable” royalties on patents required to implement the standard.

It follows that manufacturers sometimes sue each other if they disagree on what is “reasonable.”  This can add a significant cost, as well as risk and uncertainty, to the development and deployment of these technologies. In case this isn’t patently obvious (see what I did there?), a RAND royalty rate is always greater than a royalty-free royalty rate! (And under the DOCSIS licensing arrangement, the RAND royalty is always $0.)

How Licensing Impacts the Bottom Line

How does this translate to the real-world bottom line? Since its inception, over 2.5 billion DOCSIS-based cable modems and gateways have been deployed. All with no royalties for patents necessary to implement the DOCSIS specification.

Cumulative number of cable modems

As the DOCSIS technology evolved to add additional features, faster speeds, and improved technology, so did the “patent pool” set up by the license arrangement expand. Think about it this way: if there were 1,611 technical requirements in DOCSIS version 1.0, there are 5,758 requirements in DOCSIS 3.1. That’s a pretty big expansion, and a lot of intellectual property, all protected from infringement litigation.

Number of DOCSIS Requirements

Licensing Arrangement as the Unsung Hero

It’s true that probably only lawyers think licensing is sexy, and that’s ok. But know that even if licensing doesn’t necessarily “wow” you with revolutionary advancements in cable/internet/wireless technology (see our Full Duplex DOCSIS and Coherent Optics technology pages), it’s still an important mechanism for business as usual.

From this lawyer’s perspective, the CableLabs’ royalty-free DOCSIS licensing arrangement has been the unsung hero for the last 20+ years, in terms of fostering implementation and rapid technological innovation, reducing risk, advancing adoption, and expanding deployment worldwide. And, as DOCSIS continues to be the workhorse for all things broadband, it is legally positioned to succeed.

That’s it! Feel free to contact me for more information, and thanks for reading!


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Wireless

CableLabs Presents: Mobility Lab Webinar Series

Omkar Dharmadhikari
Wireless Architect

Oct 17, 2018

The CableLabs wireless R&D group has a charter to investigate new and emerging wireless technologies that will benefit our cable operator members, half of which also own mobile networks. As cable and mobile networks continue to converge, we've built a fully functional mobility lab. The aim of the mobility lab is to conduct validation, proof of concept, standards development and new technology assessments to support Multiple System Operator (MSO) use cases.

Mobility Lab Infrastructure

The mobility lab includes a variety of:

  • Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment including Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs) and small cells operating in licensed bands with FCC approved experimental licenses
  • Multiple cellular virtualized and cloud core network solutions
  • Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) backhauled small cells

CableLabs and Kyrio offer a diverse lab environment with an anechoic chamber, shield room, RF tents, UE simulators and a 5,000 sq. ft. test house for testing real-world scenarios.

Mobility Lab Projects

The mobility lab hosts a wide variety of projects spanning from:

  • Low latency backhaul
  • Inter-EPC and PLMN handover
  • Wi-Fi calling
  • 5G converged core
  • LAA and Wi-Fi co-existence
  • Wi-Fi mobility enhancements with ANDSF

The lab is being extensively used for analyzing Over-The-Top (OTT) aggregation solutions for cellular Wi-Fi convergence. We are also working on building test setups for different Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) use cases that could be important from our members perspective. Recently, we hosted an industry-wide SAS-CBSD interoperability event for the CBRS Alliance that included over 15 vendors and 60 participants to validate the baseline functionality of CBRS.

Want to learn more about CableLabs projects leveraging the in-house Mobility Lab?

We are hosting a “Mobility Lab Webinar Series” to showcase various lab activities and tests performed. The first webinar in the webinar series, “CBRS Neutral Host Network (NHN) using Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN)”, is scheduled for October 30th, 2018.

The webinar will provide:

  • An overview of network sharing, active network sharing, MOCN and CBRS
  • A CBRS NHN use case and its deployment scenarios
  • A CBRS NHN use case lab demonstration

Stay tuned for information on further webinars in the pipeline. In case of any questions/suggestions, please feel free to reach out to Wireless Architect Omkar Dharmadhikari or the Director of Wireless Mark Poletti. Register for the webinar by clicking below.


Register for the Mobility Lab Webinar

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