Translation Please

Your 2012 Cable Show Jargon Descrambler

5/20/2012 3:30 PM

It’s Cable Show week in Boston, and technology is once again driving what’s been a pretty massive slate of improvements and launches, just since we all got together last year in Chicago. Expect jargon; use this handy descrambler for bearings.

In no particular order:

“BYOD” means “Bring Your Own Device.” It’s long been a lament of IT people, what with all the stuff we now own that connects to the Internet from anywhere there’s a signal. Now that we’re fetching video and screens are in our hands, not hanging on the wall, it’s becoming a cable tech-talk term, too.

“CCAP,” which last year at this time was “CMAP,” will again be a big tech topic. It stands for “Cable Converged Access Platform” and reflects the fact that the things that convey digital information from headend to home - in cable, “QAMs,” for quadrature amplitude modulators” - grew up in different time frames and from different vendor groupings, per service. Digital video and video QAMs came first. Then data QAMs, for broadband. In some cases, voice QAMs, although they’re the spittin’ image of data QAMs.

Anyway, “CCAP” is an effort to make a one-size-fits-all QAM, which saves money all over the place.

Heard of “augmented reality,” but haven’t really seen it? Look for it in the CableLabs CableNET area, and in an Imagine Park panel on Monday (11:45-12:30). It’s been happening among tech enthusiasts for some time now. It lets you set up the GPS coordinates on your phone so as to see overlays of stuff near you that you may need - a cheeseburger, a train, a doctor. Get there a few minutes early.

Speaking of Imagine Park, it’s got a great lineup this year (says someone who helped to plan it). What is it? This is the second year of the former “home of the future” exhibit, to showcase new ideas in a park-like setting. Yes, there’s food, and Wi-Fi - in both IPv4 and IPv6. (Mark that calendar! June 6 is World IPv6 Launch Day.)

Also in Imagine Park, don’t miss the judged debate on Tuesday (3-3:45). Is cable doing enough to attract and keep young people/future heads of household? Hear what future heads of household from Harvard and Columbia decide.

Near Imagine Park, do yourself the favor of waiting in the line to see “Surfaces,” put on by NDS-soon-Cisco. It’s HDTV on your wall. You’ll exit thinking about where you’d put that big bookshelf, if you could use that wall for the big TV-without-a-TV.

Last but not least: Gateways will be big again this year, in vendor booths and in a specific section of CableNET. Quick refresher: “Headless” means no video outputs, which means it doesn’t need to be near the TV. “Hybrid” means it’s a bridge between today’s world of RF and QAM toward all-IP.

As someone who spent the last 25-plus years of life watching this industry evolve its technologies - at what often felt like a glacial speed - it’s nearly exhilarating to see this sprightly pace. In both a geez-how-to-track-it-all, and a don’t-trick-me sense … see you there!

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at translation-please.com or multichannel.com/blog.