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30th Anniversary

Technology in Your Everyday Life: Why You Should Pay Attention to Innovation

Sep 21, 2018

If you were around 30 years ago, you may recall using a payphone, writing a check, or strolling down the street with your Walkman. All of those conveniences of 30 years ago don’t seem all that convenient today. In just three decades, the span of CableLabs' entire existence, we went from analog to digital, from payphones to smartphones, from libraries to the internet. Now we wake up every day ready for the next big thing.

While you may get excited about the latest new device or app you probably don’t give much thought about what lies behind the next big thing. So long as the device or app works why should you care?

Reason #1: Cybersecurity

Like it or not, your life is online. This comes with many benefits, like convenience and accessibility, but also a few risks.

When CableLabs was formed in 1988, a huge chunk of our innovation efforts focused on television and improving the viewing experience. Fast forward to today: your TV is now connected to your network, just like your phone and a myriad of other smart devices you can’t live without. Many of them have digital eyes and ears, a.k.a. cameras and microphones, that aren’t secure. That’s why a lot of our work today centers on cybersecurity. Whether you’re streaming a YouTube video or making an online payment, it’s very important to use secure devices.

Cable operators have a long history of successfully defending against attackers seeking to steal your service, customer data and video content. We’ve enabled cable-based security technologies to be leveraged in the wider internet ecosystem, including in Wi-Fi hotspots, smart grid devices and medical communications through our subsidiary Kyrio. The cable industry also provides broad-based technology thought leadership on security through substantial contributions to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), Wi-Fi Alliance and the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG), among other leading technical bodies.

Reason #2: Networks

You may not realize it, but bandwidth and network speed have become just as important as your other utilities. You can’t have the next big thing without them.

Just like we don’t care about electricity unless the lights go out, we don’t pay attention to how much data we use until it’s gone. We download and upload all day long without giving it much thought unless there is congestion somewhere on the network. As new bandwidth-hungry technologies, such as VR/AR, AI, and autonomous vehicles, become more mainstream, the demands on network bandwidth will increase. One of CableLabs’ main focus areas is building better and faster networks capable of supporting these new and future technologies.

Reason #3: Sustainability

Technology and its byproducts affect our planet, so how we innovate and use technology is just as important as the benefits it provides.

Recycling is great, but we can all do more. CableLabs’ unique position within the communications industry gives us an opportunity to drive policy priorities that focus on greener, more energy-efficient products. Through technological development and voluntary energy agreements with manufacturers, our industry has achieved rapid energy efficiency gains—proof that we can drive sustainability. That’s great for business and even better for our planet.

These are just a few of the many reasons to stay on top of technology and innovation trends. We’ve been doing it for the last 30 years! Please watch our Near Future videos and click below to visit our 30th Anniversary site to learn more about CableLabs and how our technology affects your everyday life.


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Innovation

Living the Gigabit Internet Dream

Mark Walker
Director, Technology Policy

Sep 20, 2018

“Gigabit” is the Internet dream. It means connectivity at blazing-fast speeds, with enough bandwidth for any device imaginable, where the online world is your oyster. Cable is rapidly making this dream a reality by making gigabit Internet service available to consumers.

Looking back just a couple of years, the prospect of widely available gigabit service was unimaginable. As of December 2016, only 4% of US housing units had cable gigabit available. In just fifteen months, cable operators in the US have increased that number by 14X. CableLabs regularly surveys our members, and we know that as of March 2018, 56% of US housing units – 66% of the cable broadband footprint – had gigabit service or better available from their local cable operator. That number is poised to climb higher as DOCSIS 3.1 technology is deployed across cable networks.

 

Gigabit Internet Speeds

But, This is Only the Beginning of the Story

CableLabs and the cable industry are investing in further network innovations to enable broadband technology to stay well ahead of customer demand for years to come.

Over the past 35 years, available consumer Internet speeds have followed what is known as Nielsen’s Law, increasing at roughly a 50% compound annual growth rate. Gigabit service is just the latest step in the history of ever-increasing speeds. If past is prologue, we can expect to see the availability of 10-gigabit service offerings around 2024, enabling experiences that are difficult to imagine today.

gigabit internet

Pushing the Gigabit Internet Envelope

The cable industry is preparing for our ever-faster future. We’re examining each segment of the network and developing new technologies to advance the performance of cable networks. The main elements of our work to drive further capacity and performance are:

  • DOCSIS: CableLabs is currently working to commercialize the next generation of DOCSIS technology. Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 will enable cable operators to provide symmetric gigabit service to customers – eliminating the upstream constraint and fully unleashing the power of cable.
  • Fiber: To ensure sufficient capacity in the fiber portion of the cable network, CableLabs has focused on adapting coherent optics. Coherent optic technologies have the potential to increase the per-strand capacity in cable networks by orders of magnitude over currently available digital optics technologies. This is an essential element in cable’s fiber-rich networks to deliver greater performance for consumers.
  • Wireless: We all experience our broadband service through our Wi-Fi connection. So, our ability to take full advantage of cable network advancements depends on the performance of that Wi-Fi connection. To ensure the reliability and improve the overall performance of Wi-Fi, CableLabs has developed protocols for Wi-Fi proactive network maintenance (Wi-Fi PNM) to quickly solve connectivity problems, advanced global standards for Wi-Fi to usher in next-generation technologies, and increased wireless bandwidth through spectrum policy engagement.

The continued innovations of CableLabs and the cable industry have enabled cable operators to provide broadband service that is well ahead of consumer demand. Cable networks are high-capacity, efficient, and future-ready to meet ever-increasing consumer demand for broadband performance.

For more information on how the cable industry is driving gigabit speeds from the lab to the consumer, please click below. 


Learn How We Are Enabling Gigabit Speeds

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Innovation

UpRamp’s Innovation Economy: The Teltoo™ Story

Scott Brown
VP of Technology Outreach & Managing Director of UpRamp

Sep 14, 2018

In this next part of our CableLabs Innovation Ecosystem Series—which we began with“Transforming Ideas into Solutions”— we continue our discussion on CableLabs' subsidiary UpRamp® and the startup ecosystem. You can read more about UpRamp in my blog "How UpRamp is on a Mission to Fix the Innovation Economy for the Connectivity Industry."

Every organization needs a raison d’etre. UpRamp’s is to introduce the incredible technology emerging from the global startup ecosystem into the connectivity industry - not only supporting entrepreneurship worldwide, but also driving innovation in cable and broadband and enabling customers to stay better connected.  

As many of the startups that go through our programs learn, creating a product that really tackles an issue in the connectivity industry takes time. The industry is unique and its specific needs demand that startups spend significant time figuring out the value of their product to the market and customizing their offering accordingly.

These needs are why we’ve created a complete ecosystem of programs designed to help entrepreneurs engage with the connectivity industry:

  • Whether they are at the seed stage,
  • Growing an established startup,
  • Or are a founder that has exited.

Our programs allow startups to validate their learnings and build their products to address specific, key issues in the connectivity space. By beginning the iterative process from the seed stage, we’re allowing startups to embed themselves into this stable industry - one that is deeply entrenched in the lives of consumers and businesses around the globe.

Now, nearly three years in, we’ve been tracking the paths of the startups that have gone through our programs, and it’s inspiring to see the impact that the connections we create have on global entrepreneurship and on innovation within our industry.

One of Those Startups is Teltoo™, and This is Their Story

Founded in 2015 in Madrid, Spain, Teltoo was originally conceived when CPO and co-founder Sergio Diaz Miguel Coca was trying (and failing) to send a video of his niece to his sister from his smartphone. He built a compression algorithm to combat the issue and realized it was something he could monetize. But over time, the software evolved completely.

UpRamp Ecosystem Teltoo

Today, Teltoo’s backend solution enables Multiple System Operators (MSOs) and content providers to utilize upstream speeds alongside download speeds during live broadcasts, allowing for bandwidth optimization and improving the customer experience by enabling live streaming without buffering.

In 2016, after the startup’s software evolved, Teltoo was accepted into the first cohort of the Virgin Media Accelerator in London, powered by Techstars and backed by Liberty Global, where they were mentored by me. After graduating from that program, they were invited to pitch at the UpRamp Innovation Showcase at Cable Congress in Brussels in the spring of 2017, before being invited to join the second cohort of the UpRamp Fiterator later that same year.

Teltoo and the Cable and Broadband Industry

After graduating from Fiterator last November, Teltoo has secured funding directly from Liberty Global and has moved headquarters to Colorado to be in the physical proximity of some of CableLabs’ largest members.

UpRamp has been, and remains, closely engaged with Teltoo - as investors, advisors, and connectors in the industry - so we’ve been able to see how they’ve evolved in the past two years. Most notably, while in the Fiterator, Teltoo pivoted their product entirely in order to best suit the needs of cable and broadband. This decision was made based on the knowledge that they gained from time spent with CableLabs members and executives. Their move to the Denver area similarly shows a strong commitment to the industry. The tractions they’ve gained since they began their UpRamp journey is a testament to the synergies that the connectivity industry and the startup ecosystem can find together.

The startups that are accepted into UpRamp’s programs are hand-selected for their ability to fundamentally change connectivity. Their technologies, laid on top of the infrastructure developed and managed by CableLabs members, will enable consumers and businesses to connect to each other faster, more reliable, and more seamlessly.

Teltoo’s Story is Not Unique

In UpRamp’s three years, we’ve helped many startups find their feet in the connectivity industry - whether through product ideation with Boomtown, enabling initial contact with the industry through Innovation Showcase, or finding product-market fit with the Fiterator.

In the future, we look forward to seeing more startups move through the UpRamp programs sequentially, as did Teltoo and 2017 Fiterator alum Xogo. As they do, UpRamp will continue to be the bridge between cutting-edge innovations and our members, building the innovation economy that will enable the connectivity industry to continue to delight its customers.

To learn more about how UpRamp helps build a strong relationship between CableLabs members and the global startup ecosystem, visit their site. 


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Wireless

  Better Home Networks: How EasyMesh™ Delivers Intelligent Wi-Fi

John Bahr
Lead Architect, Wireless Technologies

Sep 11, 2018

Today, many people view Wi-Fi as an essential component in their home. However, people routinely experience connectivity issues because networks aren't capable of broadcasting their Internet signal adequately and uniformly throughout their home or business. CableLabs is working with the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA), and its new EasyMesh™ certification program, to solve this problem and provide extended, uniform coverage throughout your entire home.

Watch our video below to learn about the benefits of Wi-Fi EasyMesh™ and how the certification program will create better home networks by bringing network intelligence to multiple access point (multi-AP) deployments.

Wi-Fi Alliance members are now able to submit their products for testing. Interested in learning more? Read my blog "EasyMesh™ Brings Super Connectivity to Home Networks" and subscribe to our blog.


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Innovation

How UpRamp is on a Mission to Fix the Innovation Economy for the Connectivity Industry

Scott Brown
VP of Technology Outreach & Managing Director of UpRamp

Sep 6, 2018

In this next part of our CableLabs Innovation Ecosystem Series—which we began with “Transforming Ideas into Solutions”—let’s talk about CableLabs' subsidiary UpRamp and how they foster innovation.

In 2016, CableLabs took the steps to connect two of the most powerful networks in the world: the global entrepreneurial community and the powerful connectivity network, run by our 61 global cable operator members. We formed UpRamp because we realized that the relationship between the cable and broadband industry and the startup ecosystem could thrive. Here’s the story of why we formed UpRamp, how we bridge the gap between the startup ecosystem and the connectivity industry to support innovation and entrepreneurship globally.

The Why: The Problem with the Startup Ecosystem and the Connectivity Industry

In the ideal world, there’s a triangular relationship between startups, industry, and venture capital (VC), which looks something like this:

  • An enterprise has an unfulfilled need
  • A startup is born to solve that need
  • As the startup gets some traction, they are funded by VC
  • Startups use that VC $ to accelerate their product into the market
  • Enterprises buy the product
  • Enterprises offer insight/guidance to venture teams on their needs/wants

In this functioning innovation economy, the cycle continues, creating a tight, efficient relationship that simultaneously drives innovation and supports global entrepreneurship.

That’s in the ideal world. But we all know it doesn’t always work that way, and in this triangular relationship, when one piece is broken, the whole cycle falls apart. Historically this triangle has been broken between startups and the cable and broadband industry. This is because of three fundamental problems:

  1. New technology requires extensive, time-consuming testing and modification before it can be deployed - and before any deals can be struck.
  2. Startups need to move quickly. Many operate with just enough money in the bank to last a year, and even with a moderate burn rate, cash is always tight. They rely on their sales pipeline being able to move at a similar pace in order to get the customer traction they need to grow.
  3. The connectivity industry, until now, hasn’t been able to scout for, vet, or engage startups in a useful and efficient way.

This combination is fatal. The connectivity industry has had a sales cycle that can be north of 18 months - and many startups don’t have the cash to make it that long without generating additional revenue. And when the sales cycles are known to be longer than the runway that a single round of funding can provide, very few venture investors will take that deal.

It’s clear why the relationship hasn’t thrived. But it’s also clear that the startup and connectivity communities need each other. Startups can iterate fast and can really drive the cutting-edge innovation that the industry needs. The connectivity industry has a huge market cap, and that cash can be a driving force behind global entrepreneurship. This is where the UpRamp team comes in. Instead of fighting against the traits that kept these two communities from working together, we have leaned into those problems and addressed them to make them work together.

The How: UpRamp is on a Mission to Fix this Relationship

UpRamp has built an ecosystem designed to connect entrepreneurs with the connectivity industry through a variety of programs for every stage of the entrepreneurial life cycle. These include:

  • Innovation Showcase, where early-to-mid-stage startups are invited to give live demos of their technology to a curated, private audience of decision-makers in the cable & broadband industry.
  • The Fiterator program, a three-month, semi-resident accelerator for later-stage startups to help them find product-market fit and ramp up the sales process in our industry.
  • A partnership with Boomtown, the accelerator for early-stage startups based in Boulder. Up to four teams in each cohort are chosen for the UpRamp Connectivity & Hardware track, where they receive coaching from the UpRamp mentor network.
  • The Innovators in Residence program for veteran entrepreneurs who are in-between roles, who work on the innovation projects left on the cutting room floor of CableLabs.

Our core team is made up of entrepreneur veterans who work at the CableLabs offices, putting us exactly at the crux of these two worlds. We have an ear on the ground within the connectivity industry - so we know what problems need to be solved, and we also know what’s happening in the startup ecosystem that could solve those problems.

Most importantly, UpRamp serves as a facilitator between the two communities. Before, sales cycles took (what felt like) an eternity because MSOs had to vet startups themselves, conducting their own due diligence and seeing if the technology could fit into their systems. Using resources from the CableLabs community, UpRamp has designed a rigorous screening process so that the startups that we introduce to the industry are vetted and ready to provide what the industry needs.

UpRamp connectivity Industry

Through this process, we decrease the time that startups spend in the sales cycle and increase the efficiency of corporate innovation and problem solving for the industry. As a result, MSOs and startups can get an agreement on paper in as little as four months - so the innovation cycle moves faster for MSOs, and startups can build a sustainable sales cycle.

The CableLabs Ecosystem and UpRamp

Our goal at UpRamp is to promote a functional innovation economy within the cable and broadband industry, while also supporting global entrepreneurship. By building the relationship between our members and the global startup ecosystem, UpRamp is helping the innovation cycle come to life - bringing VC dollars back into startups and giving our industry influence over how that cash is spent.

We all know the power of the connectivity industry. Right now, venture capital and private equity funds hold $1Tr in uninvested cash - money that could be used to drive cutting-edge innovation among startups that are solving the connectivity industry’s most pressing problems. Until now, the only thing missing has been the connection between radical entrepreneurs and the most powerful network on earth. That’s why UpRamp shows up.


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Labs

Successful OnGo Interoperability Test Event Held at CableLabs

Luther Smith
Director, Wireless Technology

Sep 5, 2018

During the week of August 27th CBRS-Alliance members and government representatives gathered in Louisville Colorado at the CableLabs facility for the first CBRS OnGo™ Interoperability Test Event. The attendees consisted of a Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrator, Citizen Band Service Device (CBSD) vendors, Domain Proxy (DP) vendors, End Unit Device (EUD) vendors and operators and representatives of various government agencies.

CBRS-Alliance is an industry organization focused on driving the development, commercialization and adoption of OnGo™ shared spectrum solutions. The CBRS Alliance enables a robust ecosystem through the management of the OnGo brand, and the OnGo Certification Program. OnGo provides an in-door and out-door LTE network that is cost-effective and can be used for either data offload or private LTE and IOT applications.

The testing covered critical functions of the CBRS ecosystem, “end-to-end” test cases, and operational flexibility. The success of the event shows the maturity of the WinnForum specification and the overall readiness of all parts of the ecosystem for Initial Commercial Deployment (ICD). This event demonstrated the ease that CBSD vendors were able to register on a SAS and become operational. One such example was a CBSD vendor and SAS administrator that had not previously interacted were able to exchange information, register the CBSD and became fully operational all in less than 30 minutes.

While certification testing focuses on protocol testing with test harnesses, this event was conducted as a real-world deployed system. With over 850 scheduled test interactions, as well as several additional unscheduled test scenarios being executed, we observed no equipment failures or unexplained results. The test cases included “end-to-end” scenarios in which EUD attached to operational CBSDs and were able to successfully access and surf the Internet.

“Last week’s Interoperability Test Event was an incredible illustration of the power of collaboration and as a result of this cooperation – across member organizations, industry liaisons and the CBRS Alliance Working Groups – we proved that the OnGo ecosystem will offer tremendous benefits to end users across market verticals,” said Alan Ewing, CBRS Alliance Executive Director. “Notably, this event provided the first ever connection attempt between certain devices and SAS'. The connections were quickly made in each case and underscored the quality of the OnGo specifications and the maturity of vendor implementations.”

In addition to hosting this event, CableLabs through Kyrio (a wholly owned subsidiary of CableLabs) supplied the PKI certificates used during the event which allowed the CBSDs and DPs to quickly switch between the SASs without having to reload new certificates. This greatly reduced the testing time and eliminated issues related to incorrect certificates being used.

As an active member of the CBRS-Alliance, CableLabs continues to contribute to the specification work that the CBRS-Alliance is developing. CableLabs also holds a position of co-lead in the Test and Certification working group which was fundamental input on this Interoperability Test Event.

For more information how to get involved in the OnGo movement please contact the CBRS-Alliance. To learn how the cable industry can benefit from OnGo please contact Luther Smith by clicking below.


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Security

The Need for IoT Standards

Matt Forbes
Senior Systems Engineer, Kyrio

Aug 29, 2018

Imagine a world in which you can tell your phone you’re leaving work, and your washing machine automatically starts the laundry at home so that it’s ready for the dryer when you arrive. Or your oven begins preheating so that you can pop a pizza in when you get home. Or, on cold days, your car automatically starting and warming up for your drive home. Imagine coming home from the grocery store, and your hands are full. No worries! The camera above your door has recognized you, and your door has unlocked and is already swinging open for your convenience.

Actually, you don’t have to imagine these scenarios anymore; they’re happening now. It is estimated there will be 30 billion IoT connected devices by 2020 and 75 billion devices by 2025. But with all these devices from dozens of manufacturers exploding onto the scene, how will they all work together? Today, many of them don’t—but it’s essential that they do.

The Importance of Technical Standards

That’s where technical standards come in. Standardizing products allows devices to work together, making the products easier to use and more appealing to end users. It also creates competition among manufacturers, which reduces prices and gives consumers a choice. But what’s in it for the manufacturer?

Often, companies want to lock you into their products so that you solely use their brand. But most companies don’t make every type of product. Door lock companies don’t usually make dishwashers. Automotive product companies don’t usually make medical devices. So, allowing devices to work together actually expands the market for the manufacturer without having to develop products outside of their specialization. It also allows for smaller niche products to work with more widespread ones. Beyond that, making devices more versatile and easier to use makes these devices more appealing in general so that all manufacturers sell more products. As for the price, the best way for companies to keep prices up is to produce newer, better and more innovative products, which benefits the consumer as well.

Spearheading IoT Standards for Interoperability and Security

Where do standards come from? For standards related to IoT, an organization has been created called the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). OCF is committed to consumers, businesses and industries to deliver a standard communication platform to ensure interoperability and security for IoT devices. These standards will span multiple industries, including smart homes, automotive, industrial, scientific and medical, to name a few.

OCF’s goal is for devices from various manufacturers to operate together seamlessly and securely. Currently, OCF’s membership includes roughly 400 member organizations, including major software companies, service providers and silicon chip manufacturers. OCF has developed specifications and is using an open-source platform called IoTivity (hosted by the Linux Foundation) that can be embedded in IoT devices. IoTivity is used to create middleware that will allow various clients and servers to communicate with one another. The communications occur in software, so the physical connections (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-wave, ethernet) aren’t an issue.  

But OCF isn’t just about interoperability. The latest release of the OCF platform incorporates PKI security. At a time when security is often taken for granted or is an afterthought for new technologies, OCF is committed to the highest level of security possible for such low-power limited processing devices. Why is this important? We may not think that hacking a lightbulb is a big deal, but the weakest link in a network is often the biggest target for hackers. Once they’re in, they can cause irreparable damage. Therefore, every device on the network needs to be secured. Not to mention the fact that you probably don’t want someone else to be able to unlock your doors, turn off your security devices or control your medical device or vehicle without your knowledge or consent!

Furthering IoT Standards Development with CableLabs and Kyrio

So where do CableLabs and Kyrio fit in? CableLabs has been in the business of developing standards and certifying products for the cable industry for the past 30 years. Kyrio, as a subsidiary of CableLabs, is reaching out to other industries to help develop new technologies. The combination of experience in standards development, as well as certification testing, makes CableLabs and Kyrio a natural fit with the OCF.

For the past few years, CableLabs and Kyrio have been heavily involved with OCF. Our involvement ranges from acting as a standing member of the board, to chairing the security working group, to participating in various working groups such as certification and interoperability testing. Kyrio is also one of seven authorized test labs (ATLs) in the world and have performed certification testing for several of the first devices to be certified. In addition to OCF certification testing, we also offer development support to manufacturers that need to get their implementations ready for certification.

You can learn more about certification testing with the Open Connectivity Foundation here or contact Kyrio today with your IoT support needs at labs@kyrio.com.


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Energy

  Webinar Recap: Energy Efficiency Through Industry Action

Debbie Fitzgerald
Director of Technology Policy and Director of the Energy Efficiency Program

Aug 29, 2018

Last week, Mark Hess (Senior VP, Comcast), Doug Johnson (VP Technology Policy, CTA), and I jointly presented a webinar on the energy efficiency voluntary agreements (VAs) in place in the US and Canada for set-top boxes and small network equipment.  This public webinar attracted attendance from across the industry and government organizations.

But don’t fret if you missed the webinar, because we are making the recording publicly available as well. Tune into the video below to learn:

  • History, overview, and amazing progress made by the voluntary agreements over the past few years
  • Insight from Comcast on the VA and how consumer video architectures have evolved to significantly reduce energy consumption in the home
  • Benefits to consumers and what makes these particular voluntary agreements successful as effective alternatives to regulation

More information about the voluntary agreements can be found in the Inform[ED] Insights paper, and via my series of blogs on the energy topic.

So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and learn how the Pay-TV industry is eliminating the need for four coal-fired power plants a year!

Subscribe to our blog to learn more about the energy efficiency voluntary agreements in the US and Canada in the future. 


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Legal

Do We Have Privacy Wrong?

Simon Krauss
Deputy General Counsel

Aug 21, 2018

Technology sparks changes in society, which brings changes in law, which can affect technology use and innovation. Privacy law in U.S. law provides a good demonstration of this technology, society, and law cycle. Recognition of a need for a right to privacy didn’t occur until December 15, 1890, when Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis published “The Right to Privacy" in the Harvard Law Review. Warren and Brandeis felt a need to develop this new right because of the prevalence of a new technology: inexpensive cameras. Cameras, particularly in the hands of the press, allowed for “unauthorized circulation of portraits of private persons.” We now have laws that regulate how and where cameras are used.

Financial vs. Mental

The Internet has given rise to a new collection of privacy concerns that we have yet to resolve. The difficulty in resolving the non–4th Amendment (government intrusion) privacy issues that arise with technology may not be because of what the technology creates but how we view privacy. Current legal solutions—such as the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (effective January 1, 2020), which in itself is based in part on the European General Data Protection Regulation which went into effect May 25, 2018,—focus on controlling data. This approach lumps together the financial harm that arises from identity theft with the mental harm that arises from privacy intrusion.

Confusing these two types of harm adds to the confusion that technology innovators may face regarding what data should be considered private. This, in turn, can negatively impact technical innovation as new innovations may create new types of data with uncertain legal implications. This negative impact could be lessened if intrusion-of-privacy concerns were decoupled from identity-theft concerns. That is, privacy should be less about data collection, storage and use and more about the tort of privacy intrusion. This is not to say that data protection isn’t important—particularly with regard to the financial impacts of identity theft—but rather that regulating data to limit privacy intrusion harm is akin to regulating how high someone can raise their arm while trying to protect against assault. (Assault, in a legal sense, is intentionally acting to cause the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. This is different from battery, which is the harmful or offensive contact itself.)

A problem with regulating data as a means to protect against privacy intrusion is that it’s not always apparent that the data technology raises privacy implications. It isn’t likely that George Eastman considered the social impact of the Kodak camera’s ability to easily create and allow the sharing of a stranger’s image (“could he? should he?”). The many creators of the Internet couldn’t have reasonably foreseen what others might learn about us based on the apparently insignificant details of our Internet use scattered across the web, such as our IP address, websites visited, web pages visited, length of time spent on each web page, geographic location, what we post, and purchasing history—let alone the information we provide when we fill out forms.

Privacy Intrusion as Assault

Although the data you make available about yourself on the internet may not be apparent, what is apparent is what a privacy intrusion feels like to you. You feel vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to feel apprehension to mental harm, much as assault is the apprehension of physical harm.

Treating privacy intrusion like assault allows for the mental harm of privacy intrusion to be separated from the financial harm arising from identity theft. Separating these two types of harm results in more than just redress for the victims. It also allows the innovator to consider separately the identity theft and privacy intrusions that may arise in the implementation of the innovation rather than have to consider the legal implications in having identity theft and privacy intrusion lumped together. For example, online camera applications tend to have more privacy-intrusion risks whereas online payment applications tend to have more identity-theft risks. Clarity in the law helps the innovator identify the legal risks.

Renewed Focus

The cycle of technology impacting society, causing changes in the law, which then regulates technology is spinning faster than ever as a culture that favors innovation and disruption creates more technology faster than ever before. The right to privacy—one of the early U.S. legal creations to come from a new technology—is receiving a renewed focus. An intrusion of privacy, however, isn’t the same thing as identity theft. Lumping them together in the law helps neither the victim nor the innovator.

At CableLabs and Kyrio, we think about the social and legal impacts of innovation. We also create and bring to market technologies that enhance protections against identity theft and privacy intrusion.

Subscribe to our blog to learn more about law and innovation in the future. 


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Energy

Another Year – Another Impressive Result for Voluntary Energy Initiatives

Debbie Fitzgerald
Director of Technology Policy and Director of the Energy Efficiency Program

Aug 16, 2018

It’s that time again! Its annual report season for three very important voluntary energy efficiency initiatives in the US and Canada:

  • The award-winning US Set-top Box Voluntary Agreement (US STB VA)
  • The US Small Network Equipment Voluntary Agreement (US SNE VA)
  • The Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement (CEEVA) for Set-top Boxes

What are voluntary agreements and why are they important?

Voluntary agreements are a collaborative industry initiative to reduce energy consumption and impact sustainability that result in energy savings much faster than other approaches, including direct government intervention. Voluntary agreements provide the flexibility to innovate on the platforms, drive efficiency gains and improve consumer experiences. All three voluntary agreements demonstrate the industry commitment to sustainability both in the US and Canada.

Here are some highlights for each agreement:

US Set-top Box Voluntary Agreement

The US Voluntary Agreement (VA) for Set-top Boxes released its fifth annual report last week, and the independent administrator, D+R International, found that the VA has far exceeded the original $1 billion annual savings estimations for the VA.

  • In 2017 alone, the VA saved 11 terawatt hours (TWh) and saved consumers $1.4 billion dollars!
  • Over the 5 years of the VA, it has saved a total of 27.8 TWh of energy and over $3.5 billion dollars for consumers.
  • 8 TWh equates to CO2 avoidance of 20.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, the same as 4.4 million passenger cars driven for one year!

Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreements

It’s worth noting that back in 2013 the Department of Energy was also working on a regulation for STB energy consumption, but terminated those proceedings in favor of this voluntary agreement. A regulation would not have gone into effect until 2018, and the VA has already saved nearly 30 TWh of energy during that timeframe!

In March of this year, the STB VA was renewed for another 4 years and established a more stringent set of allowances (Tier 3) that will achieve at least another 20% in energy savings.

Small Network Equipment Voluntary Agreement

The US Small Network Equipment VA third annual report found that energy efficiency trends are continuing as well. The SNE VA doesn’t have a national footprint estimate, but rather tracks the average weighted energy consumption of device categories relative to the increasing average broadband speeds. The most impressive aspect of the SNE industry is the continued growth in broadband speeds as well as in-home network support (e.g. better Wi-Fi, faster internet speeds) while continuing to deliver energy-efficient devices.

Energy Efficiency Voluntary Energy Initiatives

These figures were calculated by dividing the average idle power of each equipment category by the average connection speed for that year reported in the Akamai Q1 State of the Internet reports. 

The other big news is the SNE VA was extended for another four years, with the timeframe aligned with the STB VA. The renewed SNE VA will run through 2021 with a final report to be published in 2022. It also defined a more rigorous Tier 2 set of allowances for SNE that will go into effect in 2020.

Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement

The Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement for Set-top Boxes (CEEVA), released their inaugural annual report, and their savings are on track as well.

For 2017, STBs were required to comply with Tier 1 levels (the same Tier 1 as used in the US), and a full 100% of all new STBs purchased during the year met these levels.

The more demanding Tier 2 allowances went into effect for CEEVA at the beginning of 2018, but the report found that 86.4% of the 2017 units purchased already met Tier 2 levels. As this was the first year for the VA, the reported data will be used as a baseline for the following years’ reports. 

CableLabs’ Leadership

CableLabs led the technical efforts for all of these voluntary agreements and is continuously innovating and researching new ways to reduce energy consumption in the network and consumer products. CableLabs and its subsidiary, Kyrio, are also ISO-17025 accredited to conduct the energy testing of set-top boxes and small network equipment and has supported this testing for a large number of signatories across the industry. We are proud to be part of these important initiatives which are saving energy, the environment, and money for consumers.

Want to Learn More? 

CableLabs is hosting an Inform[ed] Webinar on this topic next week, August 22, at 11 AM EST. In our 2nd ever public webinar, Mark Hess, Senior Vice President of Comcast, and Doug Johnson, Vice President of the Consumer Technology Association, are joining me to discuss the details of the voluntary agreements above. We’ll demonstrate how collaborative industry-led initiatives have led to significant consumer savings, innovative new features, and a cleaner environment. 


Register Now

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