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Culture

Meet Mobile Innovator Dr. Jennifer Andreoli-Fang

Nov 17, 2017

Distinguished Technologist and superwoman, Dr. Jennifer Andreoli-Fang has over 15 years of experience in the development of state-of-the-art broadband technologies. Through her work at CableLabs, she is recognized as a DOCSIS® and mobile wireless thought leader. Spearheading many highly impactful projects including the development of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 3.1 and Full Duplex DOCSIS, Dr. Andreoli-Fang’s efforts have been critical to the success of the cable industry.

Contributions to our community

In 2016, Jennifer’s work in unlicensed mobile technologies led to the mobile industry’s international standardization of fair coexistence mechanisms for LTE. As a vocal supporter of Wi-Fi, her contributions have enabled 20 million cable, public, home and enterprise Wi-Fi networks worldwide. In the past year, Jennifer has been working on the Low Latency Mobile Backhaul Project, developing an innovative solution that unites LTE and DOCSIS, improving the latency on cable data networks, enabling gigabit-per-second mobile traffic.

Before joining the CableLabs team in 2007

Jennifer received her Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, San Diego. She is frequently consulted by the cellular and cable industries for her expertise and has served as the vice chair of the Wi-FI Alliance (WFA) Coexistence Task Group since January 2016. Additionally, Jennifer organized and served as the chairwoman of the IEEE International Conference on Communications LTE-U in 2015 and was a keynote speaker at the IEEE Globecom Conference in December 2015. She holds 49 patents with several pending in the U.S. and internationally.

We are excited to announce that on November 18, 2017, Jennifer won a Silver Stevie Award in the category of “Most Innovative Woman of the Year in Technology." 

Watch the video below to learn more about Jennifer’s bold vision for the future of mobile:

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Interested in learning more about mobile backhaul? Jennifer is holding a webinar with CTO of Cable Access at Cisco, John Chapman, on Wed. Dec 13th at 9 am MST. It is open to the public and you can register here.

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Wireless

A Little LTE for You & Me: Build Your Own LTE Network on a Budget

Joey Padden
Principal Architect, Wireless

Nov 14, 2017

If you’re in a technology role in the cable industry, you’re probably aware that cable is undergoing a tectonic shift from “the future is wired” to “the future is wireless.” Wireless means a lot of things to a lot of people. In the past, wireless meant Wi-Fi if you were talking to a cable nerd. But today, wireless is rapidly shifting to mean mobile, or more specifically 4G LTE and/or 5G. For those of you interested in this wireless future, below, I'll explain how you can build your very own LTE network on a budget.

Time to Tinker

I learn best by doing. Growing up this always terrified my parents. Now that I’ve matured a bit (eh hem), this tendency manifests less as a risk of bodily harm and more as time spent in the lab tinkering. My tinker target as of late has been LTE networks. It turns out there are open source solutions and low-cost parts out there that let you build a simple LTE network (eNB + EPC) for about $1500. I’ve been studying LTE since about 2013, but the last couple of months building and configuring LTE components in the lab have taught me about as much as the prior years combined.

In addition to the great learnings that came from my efforts, we (CableLabs) have ended up with a great tool for research and experimentation. With a cheap and fully open source LTE network we can explore novel use cases, configurations, and deployment architectures, without the need for outside collaboration. Don’t get me wrong, we love collaborating with industry partners here at CableLabs, but it’s great to kick the tires on an idea before you start engaging outside partners. Using this setup, we have the freedom to do just that.

Hardware

The hardware setup is straightforward:

  • Two Intel quad-core i7 PCs
  • A software-defined radio
  • A SIM card
  • The UE

An example bill of materials is below. Replacement of any device with a similarly spec’d product from a different manufacturer should be fine (this list is not meant to be prescriptive or seen as an endorsement).

Build your own LTE Network on a Budget


Software

For both machines, we use Ubuntu as our OS. The LTE system software comes from an open source project called Open Air Interface (OAI). This OAI software is broken into two projects:

  1. The eNodeB (eNB) called “openairinterface5G”
  2. The evolved packet core (EPC) called “openair-cn”

Figure 1 shows the LTE functional elements included in each project:

Once downloaded and built you get four executables: eNB, HSS, S/PGW, and MME. With my limited Linux chops, it took me a couple of days to get everything happy and running. But for a Linux ninja, even one with limited LTE knowledge, it can be up and running in a day.

For help getting it going, OAI has a great wiki with a bunch of how-to docs and mailing lists that are quite active. In addition to the great docs on the OAI wiki, do some googling and you’ll see many forum posts and how-to sites around the web, e.g., here is a great tutorial for doing EPC + eNB in a single PC.

It largely works. It’s open source, so the stability is ok, but don’t expect weeks of uptime. Also, note the SGW and PGW are a single executable, so the S5/S8 interfaces are not exposed, even though it’s a solid line in Figure 1. Does this limit your plug-n-play interoperability testing a bit? Sure, but overall the solution is tough to beat for the price.

Another thing to watch out for is UE interoperability. Many phones work, for example, the Samsung S7, Moto G4, but others don’t. LTE has many variations on the attach procedure, but not all are supported by OAI’s EPC currently. But again, it’s free! And it supports some mainstream readily accessible phones, which is pretty sweet.

Other Things to Consider

So we discussed the basics, but there are a couple of other bits you need to line up to get everything working:

  • Even though this set up is for tinkering, you will need a plan for regulatory compliance if you want to go over-the-air. For example, in the US you’ll need to contact the FCC to apply for a Special Temporary Authority for the frequency of your choice. Alternatively, you can do all of your testing conducted over cables in your lab. In that case, a UE with external antennas becomes really handy, e.g., the Huawei B593 family of products is what we have used (added bonus that it works great with the OAI EPC).
  • You will also need to get some SIM cards. SIM cards are wildly more complicated than I ever realized! My best advice is to go to the experts for help. Gemalto is the tier 1 provider. If you are a tier 1 kinda person, maybe start there. We have also found SmartJac to be super helpful. In either case, I advise starting with the OAI default SIM data set. It will make your initial connection efforts that much easier. Once you get that working, if you want to change the details, you can use a SIM editing software from either Gemalto or SmartJac.

Now do something cool!

Now that you are armed with some knowledge, go forth and make some LTE! Post in the comments if you have questions, want to share your project, run into issues, post in the forums I linked to, or on the reflector… you get the idea…

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We just announced our new TIP Community Lab where engineers will have access to a bevy of state-of-the-art wired and wireless test equipment. Make sure to read my blog post "CableLabs Introduces New Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Community Lab" for more information and subscribe to our blog to find out about future innovations. 

 

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Labs

CableLabs Introduces New Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Community Lab

Joey Padden
Principal Architect, Wireless

Nov 8, 2017

Today we are excited to announce a new venue for wireless network innovation and collaboration at CableLabs. CableLabs and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) have opened a TIP Community Lab located at CableLabs’ headquarters in Louisville, Colorado.

What is a TIP Community Lab?

The TIP Community Lab is an integral component of community-based innovation with data-driven results. The goal of a Community Lab is to enable at-scale real-world projects that lead to adoption. These labs provide an open and collaborative working environment for members of TIP project groups to meet, test and refine the solutions they’re developing.

Currently, Community Labs are located at the offices of Facebook and SK Telecom. Today, beyond the CableLabs announcement, Deutsche Telekom announced the opening of its Community Lab in Berlin and Bharti Airtel announced that it is launching a Community Lab based in India.

What goes on at the CableLabs Community Lab?

At CableLabs, we set aside dedicated lab space for the TIP Community Lab. When at the CableLabs TIP Community Lab, engineers will have access to a bevy of state-of-the-art wired and wireless test equipment, including our:

  • Channel emulators
  • Traffic generators
  • LTE and DOCSIS sniffers
  • A host of HFC networks we use for lab work
  • Various LTE UEs
  • Multiple EPCs (LTE core network)

The first project to enter the CableLabs TIP Community Lab is the vRAN Fronthaul project. This project is focused on virtualization of the radio access network (RAN) for non-ideal fronthaul links (i.e. not CPRI). A key component of 5G wireless networks is going to be densification; deploying more, smaller cell sites closer to the users. Think of a small cell site inside your favorite coffee shop, or several small cells peppered throughout the hottest restaurant and bar streets in your city.

The economics of this deployment style don't support pulling fiber links to every small cell, it’s just too expensive. Therefore, a fronthaul technology capable of using “non-ideal” links to connect these small cells (i.e. DOCSIS®, G.Fast, Ethernet, Microwave), can enable new deployment economics.

The Telecom Infra Project

Founded in February 2016, TIP is an engineering-focused initiative driven by operators, suppliers, integrators and startups to disaggregate the traditional network deployment approach. The community’s collective aim is to collaborate on new technologies, examine new business approaches and spur new investments in the telecom space. TIP has more than 500 member companies, including operators, equipment vendors and system integrators. TIP currently has project groups working in the strategic areas of Access, Backhaul, and Core and Management.

CableLabs began participating in TIP a year ago and we now hold a seat on the TIP Technical Committee. We view TIP as a great opportunity for cross-pollination between the different ecosystems that influence the telecommunications networks of the future, and an excellent opportunity to leverage the diverse skills within the TIP community to create new possibilities for end users.

Everyone who has access to 4G LTE today loves how speedy their smartphone is and they want more. They want the speeds that 5G wireless networks promise. But let’s be honest, we want it for equal to or less than what we pay for our service today. TIP is focused on building networks of the future through collaboration that will give operators the flexibility to grow their networks quickly, efficiently and in a cost-effective manner while delivering the 5G speeds users will demand.

In addition, there are more than 4 billion people who are not online. Dramatic improvements in network flexibility and cost reduction would help close this digital divide. To meet these two goals, the industry should pursue new approaches to deploying wireless networks.

Interested?

CableLabs members interested in more information should check out the CableLabs Tech Brief on the topic posted in Infozone (login required). The CableLabs Community Lab is a great opportunity for telecom vendors unfamiliar with cable infrastructure to get their hands dirty with HFC and DOCSIS networks.

CableLabs is also active in other TIP project groups that may come to the Community Lab in the future. For example, we participate in the Edge Computing group. The Edge Computing group focuses on lab and field implementations for services/applications at the network edge, leveraging open architecture, libraries, software stacks and MEC. Contact CableLabs principal architect of network technologies, Don Clarke, if you want more details.

The TIP Community Lab continues the tradition of innovation at CableLabs. So stay tuned, this is just the beginning of exciting news to come from the work going on in the CableLabs TIP Community Lab.

If you got this far and you’re thinking “I want me some of that Community Lab goodness,” join TIP! You can sign up here and get involved. Project groups are open to anyone, operators and vendors, and collaboration is what it is all about and we’re excited to help facilitate.

TIP Summit 2017 - Patrick Parodi - Panel Discussion from sysadmin on Vimeo.

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Networks

PNM Series: The Business Case for a Common Collection Framework

Jason Rupe
Principal Architect

Nov 7, 2017

This is the second in our series on Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM). If you missed our introduction to PNM, you can check out the first entry which explains some background on the subject.

PNM is our CableLabs project focused on assuring cable service provider companies can maintain the network at a level of quality so that major impacts to service are avoided. The proactive part means the maintenance happens before the customer’s service is impacted. But, to do this well, a service provider must collect data from the network. However, collecting data from the network in a way that doesn’t impact service is not easy.

What is the Common Collection Framework?

The Common Collection Framework is a set of Python software modules that handle the task of collecting PNM data from the network elements and presenting the data to PNM applications. It provides the data in a common form so that software applications don’t have to talk network language to get the data it needs. It also protects the network from overly frequent data requests, which can impact service.

CableLabs created a DOCSIS® Common Collection Framework (DCCF) and a Wi-Fi Common Collection Framework (WCCF). We have also started the creation of an optical-centered collection framework. We may even create an in-home wired (MoCA) framework if members express the need. To keep the usage model simple, CableLabs intends to join these frameworks into a combined Common Collection Framework (XCCF). Because cable services are provided over a network comprised of many different technologies, CableLabs is making it easy for members to use the right mix of collection frameworks to get data from the right network elements for their needs.

CableLabs recently released an architecture document to the public that describes the DCCF in detail. You can obtain a copy at this link and reference it in your work. The document describes what the DCCF is, as well as the intended architecture for XCCF. There is also a partner document reporting on the Wireless Common Collection Framework, available here.

What’s Under the Hood?

Briefly, the XCCF is a set of Python modules that work in concert to set up the network for polling using Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), manages requests for PNM data, and stores Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) output in native form or SNMP results in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) files. If that seems confusing, just know that we are providing the network data in easy to use forms. Applications can then request data from the XCCF data based on time parameters and data types. So, if the needed data are already there, the applications can receive what they need right away. Or, if the data are not there, then the XCCF can obtain the needed data and provide it in a timely manner. There are a lot of actions that can go wrong in these transactions, so CableLabs has worked hard to build a flexible architecture that supports many possible PNM approaches.

Because the PNM data are presented in the formats presented by the network, existing applications shouldn’t have trouble connecting to the XCCF to obtain its data. Translator software takes the output from the network and gets it ready for applications to use.

Why did CableLabs build it?

A PNM application or program needs data to drive it - obtaining the data required can be a significant request to network elements. Service providers need to know that the network isn’t impacted by PNM requests, so they need some level of control to assure service is the priority. Further, there are potentially numerous PNM applications that need the same data, so having every application impact the network in uncoordinated ways is not efficient, and not necessarily customer friendly. A PNM program that utilizes multiple applications needs a common collection capability to support the applications and relieve the network.

There are clear advantages to using the XCCF to support network operations:

  • It provides one polling mechanism to manage, serving all applications.
  • Building your own applications, and supporting purchased applications, becomes easier with the XCCF.
  • The network isn’t overly taxed with data requests, so it can be ruled out as a cause when there is a problem.
  • You get clear separation from the network and the applications, which fits the way operations are usually organized.
  • Updating is easy between the applications and the network when you have the XCCF as the point to manage those changes, and XCCF is built to support that.
  • XCCF is extensible, and we have loads of great ideas to consider on the roadmap.
  • Because XCCF is based on SDN architecture concepts, scaling is understood, and high reliability is supported.
  • Because it is accessible by all CableLabs members, any member can use it to test out a PNM capability in a field trial to learn about its benefits to their business.

There is quantifiable business value here too!

  • Testing a new PNM capability within operations is easier and more realistic when the data are already presented to the applications in a common way, reducing the uncertainty in the payback of a PNM business case.
  • Using the XCCF can streamline implementation of PNM applications in a PNM program, making the business case for PNM pay back faster.
  • CAPEX is lower because simpler, cheaper PNM solutions can enter operations and scale better when small applications can be pointed to existing XCCF instances.
  • OPEX is lower because applications are separate from the network, and the XCCF interface can be rapidly, easily maintained.
  • PNM advantages are achievable because a significant effort in any PNM program is solved with the XCCF. It avoids scaling risks that could otherwise increase the OPEX of a PNM program.

For all these reasons, CableLabs heard from our members that an XCCF capability was needed, so we responded.

Where do I get a copy?

CableLabs members can obtain a copy here. Vendors who are willing to sign the necessary CableLabs agreements can also obtain a copy. We hope our community can contribute feedback, and potentially contribute code as well, to the XCCF. We also look toward the community to drive our roadmap for the XCCF, providing input to what capabilities need to be supported with the highest priorities.

Don't forget to subscribe to our blog to read more about PNM in the future.

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DOCSIS

Powering the Future of Mobile Backhaul

Jennifer Andreoli-Fang
Distinguished Technologist, Office of the CTO / R&D

Nov 2, 2017

The wireless ecosystem is a rapidly moving marketplace, and the next milestone is the large-scale deployment of small cells to augment network capacities and to support 5G deployments. There are three main elements required to deploy small cells:

  1. Location
  2. Power
  3. Backhaul

These requirements put cable operators, many of whom are also mobile operators, in an advantageous position for deploying mobile small cells.

According to the NCTA, 93% of US households are reachable via the hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network. While the HFC provides the necessary elements for deploying small cells, the cable infrastructure can further extend its capabilities by offering low latency mobile backhaul. Reducing latency in the DOCSIS® network will unlock that additional potential for cable operators.

Backstory

Small cells are deployed to provide capacity or coverage augmentation for the macrocell network. This results in overlapping coverage areas between the various cells (between small cells and small cells, as well as between small cells and macrocells). There is significant interference generated in these overlapping areas, as the user can hear multiple cells’ transmissions. In order to provide a good quality experience for these users, the mobile operator needs to deploy advanced interference management techniques that are currently supported by LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro. But, for these techniques to work well, adjacent cells need to be able to talk to each other quickly - at a latency of generally no more than 5 milliseconds. And because these cells talk to each other through the DOCSIS backhaul network, the DOCSIS round-trip latency must be 5 ms or less. This is not achievable today. See Fig. 1:

DOCSIS-Mobile-Backhaul-Fig-1

Fig. 1: DOCSIS backhaul supporting LTE X2 interface for LTE-A and LTE-A Pro features

Searching for Solutions

We found that traditional cable equipment suppliers were also innovating in this space and working on enabling DOCSIS to provide better mobile backhaul. Together with my colleague John Chapman, Cisco Fellow and CTO Cable Access, we came up with a simple solution that reduces the DOCSIS upstream latency to 1-2 ms consistently. We developed a proof-of-concept (PoC), each supplying expertise and resources in the mobile and CMTS space.

Looking closely, LTE and DOCSIS are two independent systems – their operations occur in serial. The overall latency is the sum of the two system latencies. The two technologies have similar mechanisms to access the channel, and that is through a request-grant-data transfer loop.

Here comes the lightbulb moment: The LTE loop is much longer than DOCSIS, resulting in much higher latency than DOCSIS. This presents a hidden opportunity for DOCSIS. Rather than waiting for the LTE transaction to complete and then start the request process on the DOCSIS side as it is today, we proposed that LTE tell DOCSIS about the data that is on its way so that the DOCSIS request process can start earlier and in parallel with the LTE transaction. This will lead to much lower overall system latency. This is illustrated in Fig. 2:

 

DOCSIS-Mobile-Backhaul-Fig-2

Fig. 2. Pipelining LTE and DOCSIS operations. (REQ-UE: LTE request; GNT-UE: LTE grant; REQ-CM: DOCSIS request; GNT-CM : DOCSIS grant; BWR: bandwidth report)

Industry Partnership

Our joint team worked together on perfecting the pipelining operation and designing a new message called the “bandwidth report,” or the “BWR.” This simple solution reduces the DOCSIS upstream latency to a consistent 1-2 ms.

To build the proof-of-concept (PoC), we inserted a minimal amount of code into an open source LTE small cell and added an API on the Cisco cBR-8, enabling the CMTS to optimize its scheduling and to align it with the small cell transmissions in real time. We demonstrated the PoC to cable operators and received very positive feedback. See Fig. 3:

LTE and DOCSIS Testbed

Fig. 3. LTE Open Air Interface (OAI) and Cisco cBR-8 CMTS testbed

Our proof-of-concept was also demonstrated recently in the Cisco booth at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2017, as Cisco explains here. The next step for this is to make the solution available industry-wide by standardizing it through CableLabs and have it ready for the HFC network to be at the forefront of the mass deployment of small cells.

I will be holding a webinar with John Chapman on Wednesday, December 13th at 8am Pacific / 11am Eastern / 5pm Central European Time. It is open to the public and we hope to see you there. Check back here soon for a registration link.

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Education

Diversity and Excellence – Investing in the Future with Colorado State University

Steve Goeringer
Principal Security Architect

Oct 30, 2017

Recently, I attended the Industry Advisory Board for the Computer Science Department at Colorado State University (CSU) and the Advisory Board for CSU’s participation in a National Science Foundation partnership on cybersecurity. As I prepared for these sessions, it gave me a chance to reflect on just how useful working with universities is to our industry.

CableLabs works closely with many of the best universities across the United States – from NYU to Georgia Tech to Carnegie Mellon University. With CableLabs headquarters located in Louisville, CO, we have particularly close relationships with regional institutions, including Colorado University and Colorado State University (CSU). Below, I talk about why working with higher education is so valuable and what it takes to create a great, productive relationship with a university.

How and Why CableLabs Works with Universities

A great deal of focus at CableLabs is on innovation. Working with universities can help us come up with ideas and solutions that the cable industry may never realize or consider. How? The answers: Diversity and leverage.

  • Bringing together people that have different life experiences and perspectives ensures we go beyond the obvious and come up with creative, effective ways to solve hard problems. Universities have hugely diverse faculty and student bodies working on interesting problems. As we expose professors and students to the opportunities and challenges the cable industry is addressing, we inevitably get innovative ideas that radically diverge from the way cable industry professionals think.
  • Each of the universities we engage is supported by a wide range of commercial entities and government institutions. This provides multiple opportunities to achieve leverage. We gain access to research funded by multiple organizations and develop the potential to achieve collaboration and synergy on challenges shared across industries.

In the process of doing this, we convey our own perspectives and experiences, exposing great minds to our industry and increase awareness of real-world problems. The synergy that results helps identify and foster new ideas that would rarely have developed any other way. Additionally, we help to create and maintain a talent pipeline that can provide well-developed professionals at entry and mid-level positions that can fuel broadband innovation for decades to come.

The security technologies team at CableLabs has worked closely with lead professors at CSU to realize these goals. We’ve developed close, continuous relationships with lead professors, who have, in turn, helped us foster great relationships with their researchers and students. By working closely together to understand problems and emerging technologies, CableLabs can very precisely target funds to help CSU develop resources and capabilities of unique value to the cable industry. Close collaboration ensures relevance and maximizes the chance of research success.

And, the story gets even better. Universities work with a wide range of government institutions, other universities, research laboratories and other businesses. Usually, a security idea relevant to broadband might have manifestations applicable to healthcare, manufacturing, transportation or other industry sectors. Consequently, CableLabs achieves great leverage. A little time and money can yield benefits that would cost millions if pursued in isolation.

What Results have we Achieved?

We funded CSU to join the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Configuration Analytics and Automation (NSF I/UCRC CCAA – the government does like acronyms). The lead professor for CSU at CCAA is Dr. Indrakshi Ray. This program provides numerous benefits:

  • Gives us access to and influence in three major research universities
  • Leverages funding from many industry partners and the NSF. The security research of interest to cable includes IoT, Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and active network defenses (including deception technologies which makes it more expensive for hackers to attack networks)

We’ve contributed to two great projects, including funding infrastructure, ideas for implementation, and helping the lead professor, Dr. Christos Papadopoulos:

  • BGPMon: Helps large network operators detect security problems on the Internet and some CableLabs members are working with CSU now on the project
  • Netbrane: Uses big data analytics and some artificial intelligence strategies to detect and mitigate malware. Dr. Christos presented Netbrane last week to an audience at the SCTE ISBE Expo in Denver.

We’re also helping CSU create a lab for IoT security research. We’ve donated IoT devices and collaborated on IoT security considerations. Over the summer, we had an intern, Maalvika Bachani, who worked with Brian Scriber on IoT security to support our work with the Open Connectivity Foundation.

We’ve been collaborating with Dr. Indrajit Ray on trust systems. Dr. Ray is working on how we might extend the excellent public key infrastructure-based trust system used in DOCSIS further into the home and to better secure other verticals such as home automation, remote patient monitoring, managed security services and more.

What it Takes

Achieving this level of collaboration requires a focus on a long-term relationship that is about much more than money. It requires institutional support at the university and close collaborative relationships between researchers at both CableLabs and the university. This allows sustained support of projects that transcends individual personalities and provides the basis for co-authoring great papers that can influence our industry. Finally, it provides an opportunity for co-innovation with a technology transfer path that can get new ideas out into the market. All the while, capturing the imagination of students and building a talent pipeline that will continue to fuel innovation in the cable industry for decades to come.

You can find out more information about our university outreach in our blog post and video "Furthering CableLabs' Innovation Mission through University Research."

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DOCSIS

CableLabs Publishes Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 Specification

Belal Hamzeh
VP, Research & Development, Wireless Technologies

Oct 26, 2017

Recently, in a significant step for the cable industry, we announced the successful completion of the Full Duplex DOCSIS® 3.1 specification. Today, we are pleased to announce the release of the DOCSIS® v3.1 Physical Layer Specification, which incorporates the addition of Full Duplex in Annex F per PHYv3.1-N-17.1771-6. The specification is designed to enable cost-effective solutions for cable operators for faster broadband speeds and brings symmetrical peak upstream and downstream to 10 Gbps.

Current DOCSIS networks are well suited to meet today's customer’s demands and needs. Full Duplex DOCSIS networks enable operators to significantly increase the network’s upstream capacity and be ready for future applications, such as the increasing use of IoT devices, telemedicine, video chats, and virtual reality. Watch the video below to see how Full Duplex DOCSIS technology solves this problem by enabling simultaneous upstream and downstream transmissions in the same spectrum over existing hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks, significantly increasing upstream capacity.

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Security

Cable’s Role in Cybersecurity

Mark Walker
Director, Technology Policy

Oct 19, 2017

The cable industry does more than just provide internet connectivity for millions of customers: it also plays an active role in driving security in the broader internet ecosystem. Cable operators have a long history of successfully defending against attackers seeking to steal service, customer data and video content. The cable industry has been protecting the delivery of high-value video content for over 30 years through technology that has never been breached in a successful, scalable manner. Moreover, the industry has been setting fundamental broadband security features through cable internet access standards for over 20 years to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of cable broadband services globally. As the details and motivations of attacks continue to evolve, so does the security incorporated by cable operators.

Of particular focus for CableLabs is the urgent need to address the risks associated with insecure internet-connected devices (“Internet of Things” or “IoT”). IoT represents the next major axis of growth for the internet. But, without a significant change in how IoT providers approach security, the explosion of connected devices increases the risk to consumers and to the basic functionality of the internet. The consensus forecast has the number of devices connected to the internet doubling (or more) between 2016 and 2020. To the extent these devices do not contain sufficient security, the number of potential attack vectors will multiply rapidly as IoT proliferates.

A Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Insecure IoT

A combination of mitigation and prevention is necessary to fully address the current and emerging threats posed by insecure IoT. The cable industry recognizes that addressing these security risks (e.g., botnets) is a shared responsibility across the entire internet ecosystem. To this end, cable operators have invested substantially in developing and deploying measures to reduce the risks associated with insecure IoT, including DDoS and other botnet attacks, with a primary focus on protecting networks to ensure the availability of broadband service.

Mitigation

Cable industry efforts to improve measures that seek to mitigate attacks against their networks and their customers include both individual and collaborative measures:

  • The development and advancement of compromised-device detection and identification systems
  • Customer notification and remediation programs
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) monitoring and mitigation systems
  • IP-address spoofing prevention technologies and cybersecurity information sharing systems

In addition to maintaining and expanding these existing techniques, CableLabs and cable operators are also working on next-generation networking technologies to help reduce these risks.

Prevention

Although Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including cable operators, have been working on mitigating the effects of compromised and insecure devices for more than 15 years, these efforts ultimately only address the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. The challenge of this task has already begun to outpace current and anticipated techniques. Unfortunately, IoT providers have not generally incorporated the needed security measures or committed to maintaining the security of their IoT devices. To fully address the risks posed by insecure IoT devices, IoT providers must drive increased security into future connected devices. Preventing compromised devices must be a substantial part of the industry’s shared responsibility in addressing the risks posed by insecure IoT to consumers and the internet.

Increasing IoT Security through an Industry-Led, Standards-Based Approach

Industry-led standards represent the most promising approach to increase IoT security. Given the global and constantly evolving nature of threats, the industry must utilize its expertise with a goal to develop, adopt and enforce fundamental IoT security measures. To achieve the needed level of security, an IoT security standard must address:

  1. Device identity
  2. Authentication, authorization, and accountability (onboarding)
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Integrity
  5. Availability
  6. Lifecycle management
  7. Future (upgradable) security

A robust technical standard is necessary, but not sufficient. To establish value and credibility in the marketplace, an open and balanced development organization must be established to ensure due process and consensus, drive widespread adoption of the standard, address the intellectual property rights of participants and ensure conformity through strong certification testing and enforcement of the standard.

To this end, CableLabs and a number of cable operators are actively engaged in the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). The OCF is an industry effort to develop an open specification to enable connected devices to securely communicate with one another regardless of manufacturer, operating system, chipset or physical transport. OCF membership is broad-based with over 300 members, including leading companies at all levels of the IoT space – silicon, software, platform and finished-goods. CableLabs and Comcast hold board seats and CableLabs chairs the Security Work Group of OCF. In addition, CableLabs contributes to IoTivity, a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project sponsored by OCF, which provides an open source reference implementation of the OCF specification that will further enable broad adoption.

Engaging with the Broader Internet Ecosystem

CableLabs and the cable industry have 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 CableLabs’ 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.

Broadband service continues to become more integral to economic activity and social connectivity. The number of connected people and devices continues to grow, as does broadband network capacity and performance. Security provides the fundamental trust that enables these trends, and as the internet ecosystem grows, all actors must make it a priority.

You can find more information about CableLabs' role in securing the future in our Inform[ED] Insight papers "A Vision for Secure IoT" and "Securing Networks in the Broadband Age."

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Video

W3C Recommendation: Plugin-Free Playback of Premium Content

Bob Lund
Vice President, Advanced Network Technologies

Oct 17, 2017

The recent World Wide Consortium (W3C) Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) Recommendation describes the importance of browser-based content protection for a better user experience when viewing encrypted video on the web. The W3C Media and Entertainment Interest Group has been a key venue for worldwide definition of premium video content delivery requirements. According to W3C:

“EME is an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows plugin-free playback of protected (encrypted) content in Web browsers, which works seamlessly on all major platforms. W3C’s Media Source Extensions (MSE) provides the API for streaming video while its companion Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) provides the API for handling encrypted content.”

As hinted in the announcement, EME is but one piece in achieving a goal of premium content delivery without the use of plugins. Moving web interactions away from plugins into browsers enhances security, privacy and accessibility for consumers and simplifies the development process for web developers.

Consider the past, not so long ago, when no common solution existed for premium content and each company implemented its own browser-specific or plug-in solution. Each solution was different - no content portability across platforms, uneven support for critical viewer features, no common encryption, no common standard or even disclosure for security considerations. Every piece of premium content was wrapped in technology specific to a browser, system vendor and user device.

Premium video content is much more than video

The use of streaming services with encrypted video content has grown exponentially and viewers expectations are high - multiple language audio tracks, subtitles and closed captions, flawless delivery over the best-effort internet, state-of-the-art user interfaces and content that can be viewed across any browser on any device. This is a challenge for content providers. How do they meet expectations without an explosion of complexity and cost in dealing with multiple devices, browsers and network technology?

A common, browser-based content encryption solution is necessary, but by no means sufficient in addressing this challenge. Along with EME, CableLabs and multiple system operators (MSO’s) have initiated and participated in W3C groups to piece together this puzzle.

W3C Documents

It is useful to understand the set of browser features defined by W3C and others, why every feature in this set is required for premium content and why it’s all these features or nothing. These requirements are reflected in many W3C documents, in addition to the EME Recommendation:

Every one of these features is essential to the industry goal of making the web a first-class platform for media and entertainment.

Encrypted media extensions, along with HTML5 features, media tracks, media source extensions and DASH define common implementations for essential components of premium content. All of these pieces rely on each other; take one away and it's back to the not-so-good-old-days. The W3C has provided an essential service to consumers and providers, and technology partners by enabling create once, use anywhere premium content.

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Culture

Don Clarke Wins Layer123 Network Transformation Award

Oct 16, 2017

Last week, CableLabs Principal Architect in Network Technologies, Don Clarke won the prestigious Layer123 Network Transformation Award in the category of Individual Achievement: Contribution to Network Transformation. CableLabs is a strong supporter of innovation in SDN (software defined networking) and NFV (network functions virtualization) and is thrilled that Don has been recognized for his seminal achievements.

Don Clarke Wins Layer123 Network Transformation Award

Originally from the United Kingdom, Don received his degree in computer systems from the University of Essex, England and is a member of the U.K. Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Before joining CableLabs, he was known as BT’s “NFV guru” and spent over 40 years with the U.K. company in numerous technical roles, including the head of network evolution innovation and technical lead for deep fiber operational trials.

In 2012, Don co-founded the leading industry group specifying requirements for NFV technology within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the NFV Industry Specification Group (ETSI NFV ISG), is a member of the ETSI NFV ISG leadership team and chairs the Network Operator Council. In October 2012, he edited the joint-carrier white paper on NFV, which is widely regarded as the “fundamental document heralding NFV as the future direction for telecommunications networks."

In his current role at CableLabs, he is responsible for driving network innovation on behalf of the cable industry with a focus on NFV and SDN. Don holds nine patents in passive optical network (PON) technologies and has authored numerous papers in telecommunications.

This was the inaugural year for the Network Transformation Awards. The awards recognize innovation and inspiration in the advancement of SDN and NFV and celebrate those with the most significant achievements in accelerating Network Transformation. Winners were selected based upon their leadership and achievement in the field by an independent panel of leading SDN NFV Congress Analyst Partners.

You can read more about Don’s work in his blog posts here and watch his recent interview with TelecomTV on NFV here.

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