CableLabs Certifies First Cable Modem with Low Latency DOCSIS® Support
CableLabs is pleased to announce that, for the first time, a DOCSIS® 3.1 specification–compliant cable modem that includes the Low Latency DOCSIS (LLD) set of features has become CableLabs Certified. This announcement represents a major milestone on the path toward 10G because LLD support is key to improving latency on DOCSIS networks, and improving latency is one of the pillars of 10G.
Starting with Certification Wave (CW) 134 in January, all DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems submitted for CableLabs certification are required to include support for the LLD feature set. Our Kyrio subsidiary recently finished testing the Motorola MG8725 from Minim, which was submitted for testing in that CW. The CableLabs Certification Board—made up of representatives from our member companies—then reviewed the results and determined that the device had met the requirements for CableLabs Certification.
The modem can be found on the Certified/Qualified Device List on the CableLabs website with an ID of MOTO1341. Any DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems added to that list in the future for CW 134 or later will also include support for the LLD feature set.
What Is Latency?
As described in our "Latency 101: Getting From There to Here" blog, latency refers to the time it takes for something to get from one point to another across a network. People experience this delay when doing things on the Internet, and it can come from myriad sources. Although latency performance often does not receive the same attention as speed, it’s one of the most noticeable aspects of a user’s online experience.
What Is Low Latency DOCSIS?
As described in our blog post “CableLabs Low Latency DOCSIS Technology Launches 10G Broadband into a New Era of Rapid Communication,” LLD technology is a set of new features for DOCSIS 3.1 (and future) equipment that can be added to already deployed devices via a software update. LLD can provide consistent low latency (as low as 1 millisecond) on the access network for the applications that need it. The user experience will be more consistent with much smaller delay variation.
Why Is Low Latency DOCSIS Important?
In our blog post “Rise of Cloud Gaming—Meeting the Challenges for ISPs,” we discussed applications such as online gaming and game streaming that can provide greatly improved user experiences with reduced, consistent latency. But latency isn’t just about gaming: Many work-from-home applications such as video conferencing can benefit from improved latency. And future technologies like interactive virtual experiences will require consistently low latencies as well.
What Is CableLabs Certification, and Why Does It Matter?
As detailed in our blog post “What’s in a Name? The Value of Certification/Qualification for Cable Operators,” in order for a device to become CableLabs Certified, Kyrio executes a series of tests to determine whether the device complies with a particular CableLabs specification. Once that testing is completed, the results are reviewed by the Certification Board to determine whether that device has earned CableLabs Certification status.
CableLabs Certification, therefore, serves as a mark of quality, indicating that a given device complies with the requirements of our specifications and enabling cable operators to roll out the device. CableLabs and Kyrio offer a number of options to assist vendors through the certification process—as detailed in our blog post “3 Tips on How to Make CableLabs Certification/Qualification Testing as Painless as Possible”—including interoperability events and device pre-testing.
A cable modem with LLD functionality that successfully completes CableLabs Certification represents a big step on the path to eventual wide deployment of these technologies, enabling a host of new applications and improved user experiences. We can’t wait to see the new ideas that will generate.
3 Tips on How to Make CableLabs Certification/Qualification Testing as Painless as Possible
In the previous two blog posts in this series, we talked about what CableLabs Certification and Qualification are, as well as what they mean to both cable operators and manufacturers. In this post, we pose the question: How does a manufacturer ensure that it can get through this process successfully?
In a word: preparation.
Although a manufacturer could do that preparation itself—obtaining all the equipment, and conducting all the testing needed to prepare for a submission—the good news is that it doesn’t have to: CableLabs and Kyrio have a number of ways to help manufacturers prepare, all as a part of our mission to get properly functioning devices into the field as quickly as possible.
1. Interoperability events
The first of these are interoperability events, which are sponsored by CableLabs and jointly conducted by CableLabs and Kyrio.
After the development of a specification, and while the development of products is underway, CableLabs will hold a number of free interoperability events in the Kyrio lab facilities. These events provide an opportunity for manufacturers to test their devices while they’re still in development, using Kyrio’s state-of-the-art lab facilities. Even more important is that they provide an opportunity for multiple manufacturers to come together on neutral ground and try to get their devices working with one another—to interoperate. And when issues are found (as would be expected early in the development process), CableLabs and Kyrio engineers are available to help figure out the issues, which can even lead to a clarification of requirements in the specification, if necessary.
2. Pre-testing services
Although interoperability events can help accelerate product development and can provide some amount of pre-testing prior to a certification or qualification submission, they are not sufficient preparation in and of themselves.
For those who prefer not to purchase the equipment and dedicate the time necessary to perform that additional testing—or for those who simply prefer more privacy than an interop affords—Kyrio offers individual device manufacturers the opportunity to do flexible, customized, 1:1 testing. This is an opportunity to have the same engineers run the same tests that would be conducted as a part of certification or qualification testing—but privately, with the results going only to the manufacturer that submitted the device. The engineers can even help troubleshoot issues and validate fixes. All of this can be done before a device is ever submitted, providing an opportunity for that device to fly through testing quickly and easily.
3. A process designed to help
And what if a device does run into problems during certification or qualification testing? Even at that point, CableLabs and Kyrio have designed their process to help identify critical issues quickly and allow manufacturers the opportunity to update their devices. All of these opportunities are part of our mission to help get properly functioning devices into the field as quickly as possible.
For more information
In this blog series, we’ve looked at what CableLabs Certified and CableLabs Qualified mean, why they’re valuable for both operators and manufacturers, and how to get through the process as quickly and easily as possible. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the following individuals:
- For questions about CableLabs Certification or Qualification programs, contact Matt Schmitt, Principal Architect at CableLabs
- For questions about how to submit a product for CableLabs Certification or Qualification programs, contact Jason Lauer, Director of Wireless and Testing Services at Kyrio
- For questions about 1:1 testing services from Kyrio, contact Ho Kim, VP of Sales and Business Development at Kyrio.
To learn more about CableLabs certification or qualification testing with Kyrio, click the button below.
Why Should I Care? The Value of CableLabs Certification/Qualification for Manufacturers
In my previous blog post in this series, we talked about the process of becoming CableLabs Certified or CableLabs Qualified, and why determining whether a device has been certified or qualified is valuable for cable operators. But what about for manufacturers?
In the previous blog post’s example—in which a cable operator was having trouble with a cable modem termination system (CMTS) in his network—imagine that the CMTS manufacturer in question had submitted its device to Kyrio for testing and that it had become CableLabs Qualified. In that case, it’s extremely likely that the problems would never have occurred. Or if a problem had occurred, it would likely be originating from a cable modem rather than the CMTS itself.
Wouldn’t that knowledge have significant value for the manufacturer, rather than simply claiming that it was DOCSIS Compliant?
Which is also why many cable operators require that their devices be CableLabs Certified or Qualified before they deploy them on their network. It’s important to note that CableLabs member companies aren’t required to purchase only certified or qualified equipment: They can purchase whatever equipment they’d like. However, in many cases, they do see the value for their operations and therefore require devices to be CableLabs Certified or Qualified as part of their purchasing process.
There are even cases in which government regulation necessitates certification. As a result, obtaining certification or qualification can—in some cases—be a requirement for selling a particular product.
A Mark of Quality
But what if you already know your device is compliant? Why do you need someone else to test it to prove that?
Over the years, we’ve had numerous cases in which a manufacturer was convinced that its product was fully compliant with one of our specifications. However, there are tests that Kyrio is simply in a better position to execute; over the course of our testing processes, we’ve often uncovered issues that could have caused major problems once a given device was deployed in the field. Not only would that cause a problem for cable operators; it would also cause major problems for the manufacturer that supplied those devices because that manufacturer will be the one on the hook to get things fixed—and to do so quickly. Therefore, it’s much more cost-effective to discover those problems early, before things are deployed, and avoid those headaches.
In fact, to the best of our knowledge, no CableLabs Certified device has ever been the subject of a hardware recall.
As a result, the CableLabs Certified and CableLabs Qualified labels have become symbols of quality, ones that have often enabled sales into new markets for manufacturers, thereby opening up new business opportunities.
Sailing through the process
All of that said, the ideal scenario would be to never find failures during certification or qualification testing so that devices sail through the process as quickly and easily as possible. In the next blog post in this series, we’ll look at some of the ways CableLabs and Kyrio help to do just that, as part of our mission of getting properly functioning devices into the field as quickly as possible.
What’s in a Name? The Value of CableLabs Certification/Qualification for Cable Operators
An industry colleague recently reached out to a few of us with a problem: A cable operator was having trouble with a cable modem termination system (CMTS) in his network. The manufacturer of that CMTS had claimed that it was “DOCSIS® Compliant,” and therefore this operator apparently had assumed it would just work.
We checked the posted list of CableLabs Certified® and Qualified devices (available on the CableLabs® website) and were quickly able to determine that the CMTS in question had not received CableLabs qualification. Although the manufacturer in question claimed that its CMTS was compliant with the DOCSIS specifications, that had not been verified by CableLabs.
What does CableLabs Certified and CableLabs Qualified mean?
This incident caused us to realize that it would be valuable— through a series of blog posts—to help clarify what the terms “CableLabs Certified” and “CableLabs Qualified” actually mean, why they’re important to both operators and manufacturers, and how both CableLabs and our Kyrio subsidiary help get products into the field rapidly.
That is a differentiating aspect of CableLabs: We not only help develop new innovative technologies, we also help bring them to market as quickly as possible. We do this through a variety of activities, such as interoperability events where we invite manufacturers to work together collaboratively on neutral ground to promote interoperability, as well as 1:1 private testing through our Kyrio subsidiary.
The ultimate check of compliance to any CableLabs specification, however, comes in the form of our Certification and Qualification programs—that is, certification for customer premise equipment (CPE) devices and qualification for network devices.
The process of becoming CableLabs Certified or Qualified
The road to becoming CableLabs Certified or Qualified:
- Begins with a manufacturer applying for that status and submitting multiple samples of a device to Kyrio to conduct independent testing of that device.
- Kyrio executes a series of tests to verify various requirements from the relevant CableLabs specification(s)—essentially an extensive compliance audit—and generate a test report regarding those results.
- That report is then presented to a Certification Board made up of experts from several CableLabs member companies, who then determine whether to award CableLabs Certification or Qualification.
Only after a manufacturer has successfully completed this process will it be able to state that its device is “CableLabs Certified” or “CableLabs Qualified,” and have that product listed on the CableLabs Certified/Qualified list on our website.
Checking the list
So, the next time you see a manufacturer claim that its products are DOCSIS compliant, you may want to ask whether those products are CableLabs Certified, and check our list of certified devices as a way to ensure that they really are compliant with the specifications.
Don't forget to subscribe to our to receive the next blog post in this series where we will look at the value of CableLabs Certification and Qualification for manufacturers. Visit Kyrio to learn more about their testing services.