Reviewing the NCTA’s Technical Papers

6/27/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

collection of technical papers,
organized by the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association,
with contributions from CableLabs
and the Society of Cable Telecommunications

The two I went so far as to
print out to read on the plane:
“Considerations When Delivering
Cable TV to IP Connected Consumer Electronics,”
by Comcast engineering fellow Mark
Francisco; and “Evaluating Best-of-Class Web
Service APIs for Today’s Multiplatform Video
Management Solutions,” by thePlatform’s
Alan Ramaley, CTO, and Nick Rossi, VP of

The latter caught my eye because of that
term — “Web service” — which tends to pop up
at every intersection of old and new; now and
next. Usually the words “you just” are nearby,
just to make sure you’re feeling stupid: “You just
do it as a Web-service interface.” (Duh!)

If you’ve been feeling the need to take a
deep soak in the language of web services, or if
you’ve wondered about how application program
interfaces (APIs) work, this one’s for you. Example
terminology: SOAP, and why it’s a “heavy protocol”
to work with; the verbs of REST. (Verbs!
Writers love verbs! There’s hope!)

Francisco’s paper details the technical
options associated with transforming TV into
an app, from a service. If you’ve ever wondered
about the similarities and differences
between HTTP live streaming, DLNA, Flash
streaming, MPEG-DASH, and Microsoft Smooth
Streaming, read it.

Other notables: “Adapting Adaptive Streaming
to Cable Access,” by Comcast’s Xiaomei
Liu, because of the byline (Liu is one of Comcast’s
first engineering fellows, and a lauded
Big Thinker); “Will HTTP Adaptive Streaming
Become the Dominant Mode of Video Delivery
in Cable Networks,” by Ericsson’s Michael
Adams, because it’s a perfectly phrased question
for these times; and “Approaches to
Integrating CDN Technologies into Classical
Cable VOD Platforms,” by Time Warner Cable’s
Chuck Hasek and Verivue’s Santosh Krishnan,
because content-delivery networks (CDNs)
are also a big part of the new vogue in cable’s
engine-room discussions.

For this year’s nod for the geekiest paper
title — notably, either this year’s batch is more
approachable, or we’re getting geekier, because
nothing popped out as shamelessly geek —
we’ll go with “Evolving Optical Transport Networks
to 100G Lambdas and Beyond,” by optics
veteran Gaylord Hart of Infinera and HBO’s stalwart
technologist Craig Cuttner.

You can buy the whole set for $50, a price
that hasn’t changed in a very long time. I highly
recommend the CD-ROM (no printed book this
year), but only if you’re into immersion learning.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at or