It’s Tech (Expo) Talk Time Again


Cable’s technical community heads to Atlanta next week for the annual SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, guaranteed to be a maze of impressively nerdy tech talk. Here’s a preview of likely lingo.

Predictive Distortions and CPE Spectrum Analysis: This one’s all about some seriously good stuff happening in field operations, which is the ability to predict plant problems, with location, based on distortion signatures.

This leads directly to “CPE Spectrum Analysis,” where the CPE stands for customer-premises equipment. It means operators can reduce the tried-and-true spectrum analyzer (which is spendy) into code inside a set-top, modem or gateway.

Yotta, as in that’s a yotta data: Big data is a theme at Expo, just as everywhere else. “Yotta” is the prefix for biggest unit of measurement there is, for numbers. As a word, it’s a septillion. In the order of things, it goes “kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta, yotta.”

Yotta comes into play in cable tech when thinking through how to deal with big volumes of data — like when you’re polling, say, 40 million pieces of CPE, every 10 minutes.

The Combining Network: One of the black arts in any cable head-end is the combining network. It’s the last thing that happens before everything goes into the laser to shoot out onto fiber, then coax, then homes. It’s critical, because it’s the thing that combines multiple, outbound video channels together for the ride to subscribers.

Often derided as “a rat’s nest,” the combining network is a hot tech topic because it will change, and maybe even go away, as the transition to Internet protocol marches on. That’s good news from a reduction of complexity perspective, but it’s a brain-melter to think through.

Bufferbloat Mitigation: In data networks, buffers exist to make sure bits don’t bunch up when pipes get crowded. With so much video moving over the Internet, buffers are already starting to bloat, which causes quality issues.

Rolaids isn’t an option. Nor does the historical remedy work: Throwing more bandwidth at it. That’s why bufferbloat mitigation falls into the “likely lingo” hat at this year’s Expo.

There’s more! So much more! We’ll bring it all back for you.

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