In Honor of Earth Day: CableLabs and Kyrio Offices Now Powered by 100% Renewable Energy
At CableLabs, we pride ourselves on our commitment to sustainability in every aspect of our work. At our headquarters in Louisville, Colorado we recently subscribed to Windsource, a program offered by Xcel Energy that ensures our office is powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Our engagement with Windsource was part of a broader discussion with Xcel in which we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to participate in the company’s Strategic Energy Management program. This program is a 24-month commitment with the objective of better understanding and managing our energy usage.
The Kyrio test lab and offices are also now powered by 100% renewable energy, and the Kyrio team was instrumental in driving the sustainability initiative. Kyrio is committed to continue using sustainable energy as the company grows, and recycles all expired electronic equipment.
CableLabs’ Vice President of Information Technology and Facilities, Jeff Leget, and his team have installed several charging stations at the Colorado office, and we provide all our Colorado-based employees an EcoPass card to take advantage of public transit as part of our sustainability efforts. We have also developed a roadmap to institute similar initiatives at our Sunnyvale, California office.
On a larger scale, CableLabs has been instrumental in establishing industry voluntary agreements in the United States and Canada to improve the energy efficiency of set-top boxes (STBs) and small network equipment (SNE) such as modems and routers. The most recent U.S. STB VA report found that, in 2019 alone, the VA had saved consumers more than $1.9 billion and avoided nearly 10.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from power plants. You can learn more about these agreements in the United States here and in Canada here.
Implementing programs that focus on sustainability and energy efficiency is important to us this Earth Day and every day. We encourage other companies to look into how they can make small changes to become sustainable. Together, these efforts can add up to making a big impact. We look forward to announcing more sustainability efforts in the near future.
CableLabs Announces the Convergence Council
Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn is known for saying, “What is powerful is when what you say is just the tip of the iceberg of what you know.” For an organization like CableLabs, the challenge morphs into something quite monumental when the goal is to enable convergence across multiple industries and technologies that have been progressing independently of one another.
So, CableLabs is trying something new this year.
As part of our ecosystem expansion program, CableLabs has created the Convergence Council that will be hosted by CableLabs' Chief Research and Development Officer (CRDO) Mariam Sorond. The Convergence Council is an advisory board, composed of a broad range of experts and thought leaders representing multiple aspects of connectivity—whether it’s wired, wireless, mobile, fixed technologies—or the enablers of these technologies through cloud and virtualized platforms while embracing open and disaggregated architectures. This brilliant team of evangelists is tasked with identifying convergence use cases that will inspire development, technologies and solutions, business models that could unlock opportunities for convergence, and building scenarios for industry consensus.
“Tomorrow’s consumers are slated to be more connected, informed, and creative than ever before.” Sorond says. “To that end, we are moving towards more user-centric networks that will need a fresh look at convergence to enable not only the demands of a seamless user experience but also an unleashing of new applications. To speed the industry’s understanding of use cases that will drive this vision, I wanted to create an industry-sounding board from as broad a sample of thought leaders as possible to help us explore some of the more complex areas.”
CableLabs looks forward to working with these talented individuals to move this important initiative forward. The Convergence Council will also be working very closely with the newly announced Mobile Convergence Committee to ensure a comprehensive industry engagement on our future work.
Many of the participants in the council have expressed strong support of the Convergence Council and convergence in general.
Says Rob Soni, Head of Architecture and Technology at Nokia/Bell Labs, “The future of Mobile Access Networks will be to lean forward towards virtualized and disaggregated platforms. These platforms will be flexible and maximize user and enterprise experience. This will give great opportunities between cable operators and mobile operators to cooperate in many ways in the 5G era. Leveraging transport, platforms, and common technologies are all opportunities for greater cooperation between different types of operators that minimize the total cost of ownership. “
“Cable providers will play a critical role in the era of 5G and the edge,” says Caroline Chan, VP and GM, Network Business Incubator Division, Intel. “Convergence is essential for ensuring consistent service and persistent connectivity.”
“CableLabs has recognized the need for a convergence strategy, and we’re honored to participate in the development of a common vision and strategy,” says John Baker, Senior VP, Business Development, Mavenir. “Unifying the layers of wireless and cable infrastructure offers a significant opportunity. Convergence will allow for simplification in the deployment and operation of converged solutions.”
Steve Alexander, CTO, Ciena, sums up the opportunity behind convergence: “Cable access digitization and transition to cloud is a ripe environment for bandwidth-rich solutions,” he says. “Intelligence and convergence will enable myriad end-to-end services and a seamless user experience.”
The following ecosystem partner representatives are on the advisory council this year:
- Caroline Chan, Intel, VP, GM Network Business Incubator Division
- Dan Rabinovitsj, Facebook, VP Telco Strategy
- Len Dauphinee, MaxLinear, CTO, Broadband Products
- John Baker, Mavenir, SVP, Business Development
- John Chapman, Cisco, CTO Broadband Technologies & Cisco Fellow
- Robert Soni, Nokia-Bell Labs, Head of Architecture and Technology
- Sachin Katti, Stanford University, Assistant Professor, Wireless Technology
- Shawn Hakl, Microsoft, VP, 5G Strategy
- Shlomo Rakib, Cohere, Founder & President
- Stephen Alexander, Ciena, CTO
- Taher Behbehani, formerly Samsung, SVP and GM, Mobile B2B
- Tom Cloonan, CommScope, CTO Cable Solutions
You can learn more about and hear directly from Convergence Council members by registering for CableLabs’ Envision Vendor Forum 2021: Mobile & Convergence.
CableLabs Announces the Mobile Convergence Committee: User-Centric Networks of the Future Need a Fresh Look at Convergence
Over the next decade, we expect the industry to undergo a significant transformation as service providers deploy multiple access technologies and as new connectivity choices become available to users. To enable transparent, seamless connectivity for users and to efficiently leverage their assets, networks need to become more user-centric. User centricity will demand a more holistic architecture that converges the independent, siloed networks we currently use, thereby enabling a more seamless and optimized experience at home, at work, on the go and in the air. The time is now to put on an innovative lens to take a fresh look at convergence.
Although many people are focused on expanding from wired to wireless, and integrating existing wired and wireless networks, no single access method can address the needs of all users. Ideally, a converged network solution will enable our members to deliver the most efficient seamless experience while allowing them to keep up with ever-increasing demand for faster, more reliable, more secure connectivity—all in an effort to improve the way we live, work, learn and play and to unleash the next generation of applications and use cases.
This transformational shift toward user-centric networks as wireless and wireline technologies surge toward deployment, the CableLabs team, led by Chief Research Development Officer (CRDO) Mariam Sorond, formulated a clear vision of what network architectures and technologies for such a converged network should be.
“With the rapid adoption of new disaggregated architectures, open standards and cloud native technologies,” Sorond said, “the timing seemed right to focus on a user-centric network architecture through the convergence of wireless and wired networks.”
A well-defined set of architectures and requirements will provide a clear and consistent view and facilitate industry alignment and economies of scale. It will also provide guidelines for ecosystem partners to develop converged solutions and products, enabling our members to deliver on the vision of user-centric networks. To this end, Sorond has put together the Mobile Convergence Committee (MCC), the main objective of which will be to develop industry requirements for a network that will, in turn, bolster the convergence architecture and its specifications.
Currently, the MCC is composed of the following ten industry influencers and thought leaders:
- Eben Albertyn (VodafoneZiggo)
- Nadia Benabdallah, Vice-chair (Vodafone)
- Craig Cowden, Chair (Charter)
- Elmar Grasser (Sunrise/Liberty Global)
- Tony Krueck (Cox)
- Tom Nagel (Comcast)
- Brian O’Shaughnessy (Shaw Communications)
- Luciano Ramos (Rogers Communications)
- Xavier Rocoplan (Millicom)
- Iyad Tarazi (Federated Wireless)
We anticipate that MCC membership will expand to a total of 14 in the coming months.
“The advantages of convergent networks is clear, and it will strongly benefit our customers,” said Nadia Benabdallah. “We will simplify the consumption of new services, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. With the adoption of the ‘Network as a Platform’ approach, we make the underlying networks invisible to our customers.”
“The long-term vision for fixed mobile convergence is to deliver ubiquitous wired-wireless connectivity to our customers anywhere and on any device, delivered on cable’s high-capacity and low-latency networks,” Craig Cowden said. “This means that customers will carry their services, policies and identity with them wherever they go. The time for convergence is now, as we can leverage key building blocks like virtualization, network disaggregation, open interfaces, multi-access edge computing (MEC), automation, along with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to manage network complexities. I look forward to chairing the Mobile Convergence Committee and working with a talented group of professionals.”
“At Cox,” said Tony Krueck, “our number-one guiding principle for considering retail wireless is to protect our core business. We believe the primary way to do that is through converged capabilities. Creating seamless connectivity and applications for our customers will become foundational to the future of our products and services.”
“With Xfinity Mobile, Comcast has taken its leading connectivity experience outside the home and given our customers the ability to access the Internet from anywhere,” said Tom Nagel. “As we look toward a future with more integrated experiences across all of our services, we are excited to work with CableLabs toward the virtualization and convergence that will help make that a reality.”
“We believe that bringing together a common vision and strategy in wireless, cable infrastructure and—most importantly—customer experience is critical to moving the industry forward,” said Luciano Ramos. “As members of CableLabs, we’re very pleased to participate in the Mobile Convergence Committee to help simplify converged solutions and bring new experiences to customers.”
“The industry has been talking about convergence for a long time”, said Iyad Tarazi. “What’s exciting about this CableLabs initiative is that the foundational technologies now exist for us to make this real, and the focus on the customer experience is the right guiding principle.”
If you’re interested in hearing more about the MCC, register for Envision by clicking below.
FMA 101: Taking Things Apart to Make Them Even Better
This month, we continue our CableLabs 101 series by peeling back the next layer of the hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) distributed access network with a recently released specification called Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA). This technology isn’t as well known as DOCSIS®, Remote PHY or Coherent Optics, but it’s just as essential to make 10G a reality in the near future. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is FMA?
Without getting too technical, a big part of what we do involves analyzing how things work. We like to take things apart and see how we can reorganize or alter the components to build better, more efficient products. Essentially, that’s what innovation is all about! In this case, the “product” in question is the DOCSIS technology and the cable access network that delivers Internet to your home.
Some time ago, we figured out how to split key DOCSIS functions into two major pieces: the Media Access Control (MAC) function responsible for DOCSIS processing and the physical radio frequency function (PHY) responsible for DOCSIS signal generation. This initial split became known as Remote PHY, and you can read more about it in our previous blog post here. Subsequently, we built a complementary project involving the redistribution of these functions across the network to enable efficiencies in speed, reliability, latency and security. This newer project is FMA, which defines various ways of restructuring the MAC function’s management, control and data planes to support multi-gigabit data services of the future.
In September 2020, this extraordinary effort—involving thousands of work hours across the global cable industry—culminated in the specification. It’s a library of specifications that gives our industry vendors the technical means to develop interoperable products for our cable community, and it officially welcomes FMA into the 10G technologies toolkit.
How Does FMA Work and Why Do You Need It?
The Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP)—a nearly decade-old technology—serves as a single platform for both video and broadband services. In a traditional CCAP architecture, all the major network functions, including the MAC layer functions we mentioned earlier, are unified at the headend. However, as consumers’ bandwidth consumption has continued to skyrocket with no sign of slowing down, the cable industry asked: Is there a better way to structure CCAP to prepare our networks for the needs of tomorrow?
The answer was yes.
That’s how the concepts of Remote PHY, Remote MAC-PHY and, eventually, FMA were born. By taking apart key CCAP functions and moving them to other places throughout the network (e.g., a fiber node), we can greatly reduce space and power demands at the headend, creating efficiencies that translate into faster network speeds, lower latencies and overall a better, and reliable cable access network.
Plus, FMA offers cable operators the ultimate flexibility to implement and deploy CCAP functionality in a way that makes the most sense for them. It fully supports the DOCSIS 4.0 requirements and, along with the other tools in the 10G arsenal, can help operators build adaptive and secure networks that can easily handle future demand.
How Does This Technology Affect You and Your Future?
Complete disaggregation of CCAP sounds great, but you might be asking yourself: “What’s in it for me?” As with any 10G technology that we’ll cover in this series, it’s always about improving the end user experience. All those technical efficiencies we talked about basically boil down to more room for data to go through the network at much faster speeds. This means more multi-gigabit services, low-latency applications such as ultra-realistic video experiences and overall a better quality of experience. One day soon, as we continue to build upon cutting-edge cable technologies like FMA, this will become reality.
The September 2020 FMA release is just a part of a much bigger initiative to completely virtualize cable access networks in the near future, so definitely stay tuned! In the meantime, we’ll continue taking things apart and putting them back together in new and better ways to take your connected experiences to the next level.
Remote PHY 101: Why the Industry Is Working Together to Take Things Apart
In our previous CableLabs 101 post about Distributed Access Architecture (DAA), we discussed the benefits of distributing key network functions throughout the cable access network to optimize its performance. Today, we delve deeper into Remote PHY—one of the earliest DAA solutions that cable operators are deploying to increase their network’s bandwidth and more.
What Is Remote PHY?
PHY stands for “physical radio frequency (RF) layer,” which delivers voice, video and data via the DOCSIS® protocol over the hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) network. Media Access Control (MAC) is an example of another CCAP layer that we’ll cover in our next CableLabs 101 post.
Prior to the introduction of the DAA concept, all CCAP functions, including PHY and MAC, were integrated at the Internet provider’s cable modem termination system (CMTS)—typically located at the headend or hub site—which sends and receives data to and from the modem in your home. This data exchange is the basis for how DOCSIS technology on HFC networks works. However, the integrated CCAP approach does not maximize the potential of the cable access network.
Once we figured out how to split the PHY and MAC functions, we were then able to distribute PHY closer to the end user, resulting in increased network capacity and greater speeds. You can refresh your memory about the benefits of DAA and Distributed CCAP Architecture (DCA) here.
Remote PHY was the first documented DCA specification that we officially released in 2015, followed by Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA), released in September 2020. These solutions are complementary and have similar benefits, giving cable operators the flexibility to architect their networks the way they see fit to support future high-bandwidth services. The specifications provide guidance to our industry vendors who are manufacturing Remote PHY–compatible equipment. Just like the other DOCSIS and Coherent Optics technologies, Remote PHY and the other DCA approaches are part of the 10G toolset.
How Does Remote PHY Work?
The Remote PHY specification defines ways to separate the physical RF layer from the MAC layer that remains at the headend and describes the interfaces between them. Let’s take a closer look at how it’s done.
The PHY layer of the CCAP system is placed in something called a Remote PHY Device (RPD). An RPD is a piece of equipment usually produced by a third-party cable vendor that contains all the PHY-related circuitry, as well as the pseudowire logic that connects back to the CCAP Core, which supports full DOCSIS functionality. In other words, all this rerouting on the back end is completely hidden from customers like you. Your network will function the same as before, only much faster because the PHY layer is now located much closer to where you live.
Speaking of location, the beauty of the Remote PHY architecture lies in its flexibility to place RPDs anywhere, including optical nodes closer to the network “edge”—a cable insider’s way of saying “closer to customers’ homes.” A single node can serve just a few blocks or even a single building; therefore, each customer modem connected to that node gets a bigger chunk of the bandwidth pie, so to speak. And, of course, more available bandwidth means better customer experience!
How Does This Technology Affect Me and My Future?
You might think that it makes no difference to you how your Internet provider’s CCAP is designed—and you would be right. What does matter, however, is the noticeable difference in your Internet quality, including how fast your apps work, how quickly you can download your movies or how much lag (or lack thereof) you experience when you play an online game with your friends. Looking forward to the near future, you may be using applications that utilize holographic displays, artificial intelligence, virtual rooms, 360° fully immersive entertainment experiences and other innovative technologies that require multi-gigabit bandwidth to function seamlessly.
This is why CableLabs and our partners in the cable industry are continuously inventing new ways to mine more bandwidth out of the available RF spectrum. Thanks to specifications like Remote PHY, FMA and others, we have all the pieces in place to deliver 10G symmetrical speeds—and more—to support future innovations. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together.
DAA 101: A Flexible Approach to Better, Faster Cable Networks
This month, we’d like to share information about Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) and how cable operators are using it to build the 10G networks of the future. In our previous posts about DOCSIS® and Coherent Optics technologies, we touched on some of the components of the cable hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) network, such as the headend and fiber nodes, but of course, there’s much more to it. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the functionality of the cable access network and how it can be distributed between various components to optimize network performance.
What Is Distributed Access Architecture?
DAA isn’t a single technology but rather an umbrella term that describes the network architecture cable operators use to future-proof their access networks. This network evolution involves moving various key network functions that are traditionally located at the cable operator’s hub site (or headend) closer to customers’ homes—while also leveraging signal-quality improvements inherent with digital optics and the ubiquity of Ethernet. In addition, closer is better because it reduces the amount of hardware at the headend and creates efficiencies in network speed, reliability, latency and security.
In a nutshell, CableLabs’ DAA technology solutions give cable operators the ability to cost-efficiently redesign their access networks in stages, when and how they see fit. Because all providers’ business objectives are different, CableLabs has designed several DAA approaches they can leverage. Ultimately, it’s all about building a robust 10G network that not only supports the needs of today’s gig consumers but also anticipates tomorrow’s high-rate applications such as holodecks, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and more.
Let’s take a look at one particular embodiment of DAA, known as Distributed CCAP Architecture (DCA).
How Does Distributed CCAP Architecture Work?
In a traditional HFC network architecture, the operator’s hub—or headend—is connected via fiber to the fiber node in your geographical region. In the fiber node, the optical signal is converted to a radio frequency (RF) signal that travels via a coaxial cable to the cable modem in your home. The key functions responsible for the transmission of data and device access are placed at either end of the operator’s access network—the hub and the modem—like bookends.
In 2015, CableLabs figured out how to split the key DOCSIS network functions into two components: a Media Access Control (MAC) layer that’s responsible for how devices in a network gain access to the network, and a Physical (PHY) layer, a physical component that’s responsible for the transmission and reception of data. Decoupled, these components can now be partially or fully moved from the headend into a fiber node closer to subscribers’ homes, resulting in increased network capacity, greater speeds, lower latency and so on. That’s the basis for DCA.
How Can Distributed CCAP Architecture Help Build Better Networks?
Distributing key DOCSIS network functions out of the headend and closer to subscribers’ homes comes with many benefits. Primarily, it allows operators to:
- Maximize Their Network’s Potential
DCA allows cable operators to take full advantage of the gigabit capabilities of Coherent Optics and DOCSIS 3.1 technology, including Full Duplex DOCSIS and Low Latency DOCSIS. This means their networks will have more than enough bandwidth to support the latest-generation products for years to come.
- Achieve a Better-Quality RF Signal
With distributed architecture, the RF signal that usually originates in the regional hub can now originate in the optical node, closer to the subscriber’s home, thus reducing distortion and creating a more seamless user experience.
- Increase Network Reliability
Because the main functions of the network no longer need to be housed at the headend, the access network can be redesigned so that fewer homes are connected to any single optical node (where the fiber and coax portions of the network meet). This means that if there’s an outage, it will affect fewer customers, ultimately increasing the reliability of the overall network.
- Expand RF Spectrum in the Future
Because DCA solutions are easily customizable and budget-friendly, they provide new opportunities for cable operators to expand their RF spectrum (basically maximizing the capacity of the coax portion of the HFC network) to support future services.
How Does This Technology Affect Me and My Future?
Widespread adoption of DCA, and importantly the superset of capabilities provided by DAA, is essential to creating the 10G future that we’re all looking forward to. And although it might seem that DAA only provides cost-effective solutions for cable companies, ultimately the real beneficiary is you, the customer. By reimagining and reinventing cable access infrastructure, we’re finding greater efficiencies that translate into more powerful networks. These networks will enable a wave of new, innovative services that will transform the way we live, learn, work and play.
Just like DOCSIS technology, Coherent Optics and other technologies that we’ll be covering in our 101 series, DAA is another piece of the puzzle responsible for propelling cable’s HFC networks into the new decade and beyond. Stay tuned for another installment—coming soon!
CableLabs’ Latest Advancements on the Path to 10G
At CableLabs, staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in new ways of collaborating that have helped us continue to build technologies that will deliver internet speeds 10 times faster than today’s networks. The trek to 10G started in 2019, as we began working with our members to create the technologies that build the 10G network.
This week, we announced significant advancements made in 2020 toward the realization of 10G. A sampling of our technical achievements over this past year includes DOCSIS® 4.0 technology, Intelligent Wireless Network Steering (IWiNS), Flexible MAC Architecture specifications, our leadership in the development of the IEEE 802.3ca standard and increased Wi-Fi reliability and performance. Plus, some of our members have started testing and delivering 1.25 Gbps service.
Our digital future will stall without a platform that can meet our needs. Although we don’t know what the next trend will be, we do know that the Internet will be central to its development. By advancing device and network performance to stay ahead of consumer demand, 10G will provide myriad new immersive digital experiences and other emerging technologies that will revolutionize our lives.
It’s a new year, and we’re hyper-motivated to continue working on advancements in network reliability, security, speed and latency. Check out this chart to see how the latest 10G achievements map to these four areas.
Best of 2020: The Cable Industry’s Proudest Achievements with CableLabs
Unlike any year in recent memory, 2020 has scrambled our way of life, changing how we communicate, how we work and even where we go—on a global scale. At CableLabs, meetings were rescheduled, new rules were drawn up and enacted, and events were put on hold or went virtual. And still—despite the numerous logistical, psychological and practical challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic—the industry learned new ways to collaborate with everyone. We all continued to work toward a brighter future, even snagging a few industry awards along the way. In the spirit of the holidays, let’s end the year on a high note by remembering only the best of 2020. We’ve got quite a few proud moments to share!
An incredible achievement on our road to 10G, Mediacom’s 10G Smart Home is the first demonstration of 10G in action. It’s essentially a working technology laboratory disguised as an ordinary home—except this future home is anything but ordinary! It’s wired for ultra-fast speeds that allow us to test the latest “smart home” technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT) kitchen devices, telemedicine connections, home automation, immersive entertainment, VR/AR applications and much more—in a real-life environment. A true tech paradise of the future!
CableLabs published the DOCSIS 4.0 specification
In March 2020, we announced the release of the DOCSIS® 4.0 specification, which incorporates both full-duplex and extended-spectrum capabilities. It doubles downstream speeds to 10 Gbps and quadruples upstream speeds to 6 Gbps—another big milestone on the path to 10G.
CableLabs published the Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA) specification
This release is the culmination of thousands of hours of work across the cable industry. Part of the 10G toolset, FMA defines the standardization of the complete disaggregation of Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) management and the control and data planes to support cable operators’ next-generation data services. In non-technical terms, FMA brings us much closer to making 10G a reality in the near future.
At the beginning of December 2020, SCTE members voted to make the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) and its global arm, the International Society of Broadband Experts (ISBE), a subsidiary of CableLabs. The decision will become effective January 1, 2021. Working together to closely manage our innovation, specifications, standards and training and deployment efforts, these entities can drive faster and more cost-effective infrastructure upgrades in the industry.
CableLabs in the News
CableLabs won an Emmy award
Earlier this year, CableLabs won its second Technology and Engineering Emmy Award—this time for enabling the development and deployment of the hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) network architecture. HFC is a revolutionary suite of technologies responsible for the razor-sharp broadband video and high-speed Internet you enjoy today. It’s also the basis for the cable industry’s 10G platform, which will usher in a new era of super-high-speed, low-latency innovations.
Lori Lantz became a CableFax Most Powerful Women honoree
CableLabs’ SVP and Chief People Officer, Lori Lantz, has been instrumental to the company’s success. Over the past 12 months, she has championed numerous high-impact leadership development programs aimed at strengthening senior leadership abilities and strategic recruiting efforts. Lantz is always laser-focused on identifying areas of improvement that benefit individual team members as well as the company as a whole. The CableFax recognition is well deserved for her tireless efforts to shape our world-class organization.
Ike Elliott stepped into his new role as president and CEO of Kyrio
After a decade of leading the CableLabs Strategy Team, Ike Elliott has transitioned into his new role as president and CEO of Kyrio, a CableLabs subsidiary that provides broadband device testing, security analysis and software services for the connectivity industry. It’s an exciting move that will allow him to channel his vast CableLabs experience into expanding the impact of state-of-the-art broadband technologies at Kyrio. Congratulations, Ike!
Dr. Jennifer Andreoli-Fang named the 2020 WICT Walk of Fame Woman in Technology
In May 2020, our distinguished technologist, Dr. Jennifer Andreoli-Fang, received the prestigious Woman in Technology award for her contributions to the cable industry. A relentless innovator with more than 100 granted and filed patents, Andreoli-Fang has spent the past 13 years leading the development of game-changing technologies such as DOCSIS® 3.0 MAC, DOCSIS 3.1 MAC, Full Duplex DOCSIS MAC architecture, unlicensed LTE and NR, mobile xhaul and many more. We’re honored to have Andreoli-Fang as a member of the CableLabs family.
Phil McKinney joined Multichannel News’ “The Watch List”
Our CEO and innovation guru, Phil McKinney, is included in Multichannel News’ “The Watch List”—a new feature that ranks the 25 most influential insiders who define and drive the strategies and successes of the TV industry. Not surprisingly, McKinney has made the top 10 list. You can check out his profile in all Multichannel News publications.
This is only a small sample of the industry’s and our team’s accomplishments this year. From technology to strategy, we overcame unforeseen challenges and continued to deliver results that we can all be proud of. We look forward to bringing renewed, positive energy into 2021 as we continue to innovate the future.
CableLabs would like to thank its industry colleagues for their hard and dedicated work. We wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year!
10G: Enhancing the Power of Human Connection
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that connectivity is essential to our wellbeing and happiness. It fosters a sense of belonging—whether it’s to our family, our school, our company or just a random group of like-minded souls. And it’s not so much about the internet or the devices we use—it’s about experiences and staying connected to what matters most. That’s the ultimate goal of 10G.
In the last three decades, cable connection speeds increased from 9600 bps to 1 gig—now available to over 80% of U.S. homes! This has transformed our lives, giving us unparalleled access to the information we need, restructuring the way we conduct our businesses and communicate with others, anytime, anywhere around the world. And still, we’re nowhere near maximizing our networks’ potential. In the near future, 10G networks that are up to 100 times faster than what we have today will open doors to a whole new era of innovation, including autonomous vehicle fleets, holographic media, in-home telehealth solutions, immersive entertainment experiences and much more.
What will that mean for us? Will the seamless inner workings of our networks and smart devices help us lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives? Will this technology be able to take care of mundane and time-consuming tasks so we can focus on ourselves and our loved ones? We bet it will! We are now standing on the brink of an exciting new frontier, powered by super-fast, reliable and secure HFC networks.
To see more about what this means for changing people’s connected lives, check out this video:
Latency 101: Getting From There to Here
Welcome back, once again, to the CableLabs 101 series! In our most recent post, we discussed the fiber portion of the hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) network, as well as the coherent optics technology that’s widely considered to be the hyper-capacity future of internet connectivity. Today, we’ll focus on a topic of growing importance for many of the new applications in development—a topic that significantly impacts the user experience even if it’s not well known. That topic is latency.
What Is Latency?
Simply put, latency means delay.
In our post about coherent optics technology, we pointed out how quickly light can travel through a piece of fiber-optic cable: an astonishing 128,000 miles per second. However, as incredibly fast as that is, it still takes time for light to carry information from one point to another.
Imagine for a moment that you’re reading this blog post on a computer in New York City. That would mean you’re about 1,600 miles away from the CableLabs offices here in Colorado. If we assume that the entire network between you and our offices is made of fiber (which is close enough to true for our purposes), it would take a minimum of 0.0125 seconds—or 12.5 milliseconds (12.5 ms)—for the text to travel from our server to your computer.
That’s not a lot of time, but distance is not the only source of delay—and those delays can add up.
For example, to read this post, you had to click a link to view it. When you clicked that link, your computer sent a request to our server asking for the article. That request had to travel all the way to Colorado, which also took the same minimum of 12.5 ms. If you put the two times together, you get a round-trip time (the time it takes to go somewhere and back), which in our case would be a minimum of 25 ms. That’s a longer amount of time, but it’s still pretty small.
Of course, the server can’t respond instantly to your request. It takes a moment for it to respond and provide the correct information. That adds delay as well.
In addition, these messages have to traverse the internet, which is made up of an immense number of network links. Those network links are connected by a router, which routes traffic between those links. Each message has to hop from router to router, using the Internet Protocol to find its way to the correct destination. Some of those network links will be very busy, and others won’t; some will be very fast, and some might be slower. But each hop adds a bit more delay, which can ultimately add up and become noticeable—something you might refer to as lag.
Let’s try a little experiment to illustrate what we’re talking about.
If you’re on a Windows computer, select Start, Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. Doing so will open up a window in which you can type commands.
First, try typing the following: ping www.google.com
After you hit Enter, you should see some lines of text. At the end of each line will be a “time” in milliseconds (ms). That’s the amount of time it took for a ping request to get from your computer to Google’s server and for a response to come back, or the round-trip latency. Each value is likely different. That’s because each time a ping (or any message) is sent, it has to wait a small but variable amount of time in each router before it’s sent to the next router. This “queuing delay” accumulates hop-by-hop and is caused by your ping message waiting in line with messages from other users that are traversing that same part of the internet.
Next, try typing the following: tracert www.google.com
You should see more lines of text. The first column will show a hop number (the number of hops away that point is), the next three will show times in milliseconds (since it checks the latency three times) and the final column will show the name or the address of the router that’s sending you the message. That will show you the path your request took to get from you to the Google server. You’ll notice that even as close as it is (and as low as your latency might be), it had to hop across a number of routers to get to its destination. That’s how the internet works.
(Note that you might have some fields show up as an asterisk [*]. That’s not a problem. It simply means that the specific device is configured not to respond to those messages.)
If you’re on a Mac, you can do the same thing without needing a command prompt: Just search for an application on your computer called Network Utility. To send a ping in that app, click on the Ping tab, type in www.google.com and click the Ping button. Similarly, to check the route, click on the Traceroute tab, type in the same website name and click the Trace button.
What Is Low Latency?
A term you might have heard is low latency. This term has been getting more and more attention lately. In fact, the mobile industry is touting it as an essential aspect of 5G. But what exactly is low latency, and how does it relate to our definition of latency?
The reality is that there’s no formal definition of what qualifies as low latency. In essence, it simply means that latency is lower than it used to be, or that it’s low enough for a particular application. For example, if you’re watching a streaming video, low latency might mean having the video start in less than a second rather than multiple seconds.
However, if you’re playing an online game (or perhaps using a cloud gaming service), you need the latency to be low enough so that you don’t notice a delay between moving your controller and seeing the resulting movement on your screen. Experiments have shown that anything above about 40ms is easily noticeable, so low latency, in this case, might mean something even lower than that.
How Do We Achieve Low Latency?
Reducing latency requires us to look at the sources of latency and try to figure out ways to reduce it. This can include smarter ways to manage congestion (which can reduce the “queuing delay”) and even changing the way today’s network protocols work.
Reducing latency on cable networks is something CableLabs has been working on for many years—long before it became a talking point for 5G—and we’re always coming up with new innovations to reduce latency and improve network performance. The most recent of these efforts are Low Latency DOCSIS, which can reduce latency for real-time applications such as online gaming and video conferencing, and Low Latency Xhaul, which reduces latency when a DOCSIS network is used to carry mobile traffic.
How Does Low Latency Affect Me and My Future?
Achieving low latency opens the door to do things in near real-time: to talk to friends and family as if they were close by, to interact in online worlds without delays and to simply make online experiences quicker and better. In the long term, when combined with the higher-capacity networks currently in development, low latency opens the door to new technologies like immersive interactive VR experiences and other applications that have not been invented yet.
The future looks fast and fun.