Tasty Nugs from This Year’s NCTA Technical Papers
One of the greater developments following this year’s Cable Show, if you’re into immersion learning via tech-talk, is the placement online of the 2014 Spring Technical Forum papers. For free!
Up until now, it was a $50 DVD. Earlier, and for years, the papers came out as thick, bound editions. (A weary shelf at the office sags with Tech Papers dating back to the late ‘80s.)
If this is of interest, and you’d rather read them all yourself, go here: www.nctatechnicalpapers.com.
If you’d rather this (very abbreviated and likely to be continued!) summary, read on.
As titles go, few say “read me now!” more than “Predictions on the Evolution of Access Networks to the Year 2030 and Beyond,” written by five technologists at Arris (among them Tom Cloonan, CTO, who wins this year’s Mister Prolific Award, had we one, for writing or contributing to six papers.)
Shortcut advice on “Predictions:” If rushed, or impatient, skip to page 25. There, three pages characterize scenarios — some that impact all MSOs, others for MSOs planning to extend the life of existing plant, still others for MSOs going to new ways of bandwidth expansion, like Passive Optical Networks (PONs), which is tech talk for fiber-to-the-home.
Favorite line from “Predictions,” as an avid observer of cable’s upstream (home to headend) signal path: “Some of these MSOs will change the split on their upstream spectrum … in an attempt to provide more upstream bandwidth capacity.” Both 85 MHz and 204 MHz were mentioned as candidate upper boundaries for that terrifically thin spectral slice. (The very mention of a “widened upstream” was akin to operational anathema — as recently as two years ago.)
Trend-wise, the notion of “virtualization,” expressed as “SDN” (Software Defined Networks) and “NFV” (Network Function Virtualization) blitzed this year’s papers. It’s all about doing in software what’s done in hardware, now. Example: “Using SDN and NFV for Increasing Feature Velocity in a Multi-Vendor World,” by Cox’s Jeff Finklestein and Cisco’s Aron Bernstein.
Also: “An SDN-Based Approach to Measuring and Optimizing ABR Video Quality of Experience,” by the also-prolific Sangeeta Ramakrishnan (three papers) and Xiaoqing Zhu, both with Cisco.
Another tech trendline from the 2014 stash: Wi-Fi and wireless. Need a deep dive on why the batteries in your digital life behave the way they do? Go directly to “Wireless Shootout: Matching Form Factor, Application, Battery Requirement, Data Rates & Range to Wireless Standards,” by Comcast’s David John Urban. (Warning: It’s a deep-deep dive.)
If you’ve been wondering whether Wi-Fi has what it takes to stream multiple HD signals around a place, go to “Study of Wi-Fi for In-Home Streaming,” by Alireza Babaei, Neeharika Allanki and Vikas Sarawat, all with CableLabs.
There’s so much more. Check them out for yourself, and be sure to thank Andy Scott, Mark Bell and their team at NCTA for doing the work of putting it all “on the line.”
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.