Your SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Jargon Descrambler, 2011


The industry’s technical ranks descend upon Atlanta today, and by the looks of the sessions, workshops and meeting requests, this year’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo is going to be another jargon doozy.

Starting with other current events: If you happened to catch last Wednesday’s test of the national Emergency Alert System (hint: pretty glitchy), and wondered how that whole thing gets fixed to work correctly, details will abound in a Thursday session entitled “EAS Using CAP: IPAWS From End-to-End.”

Translation: EAS, obviously, is the Emergency Alert System. “CAP” stands for “Common Alerting Protocol” and “IPAWS” has nothing to do with the what’s at the end of the appendages of your cat, dog or ferret. (Although the inventors could get credit for almost anthropomorphizing a term.)

“IPAWS” stands for “Integrated Public Alert and Warning System” and is the new way of handling national emergency alerts. Equipment manufacturers are under mandate from the Federal Communications Commission to get their stuff in shape by the end of June 2012.

As for vendor fare: The term that cropped up with the most frequency in a happy barrage of jargon-studded meeting requests from vendors is CDN — content distribution networks. (Some people say “content delivery networks.” Same thing.) Here’s such a missive: “The product suite includes a unified origin server and unified edge server … and transmuxing capabilities to reduce the complexities of delivering multiscreen video.”

CDNs are all about finding efficient ways to deliver live and linear video using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) streaming – think Apple HLS, Adobe HDS and Microsoft Smooth Streaming. They work by plucking requested content from the server that’s geographically closest to the viewer. And they’re big, big, big, in terms of cable engineering to-do lists.

Also on the docket: “FTTT,” for “fiber to the tower,” a critical component for those MSOs dabbling in the lucrative and growing work of hauling cellular traffic for carriers; “DASH,” an MPEG suffix that stands for “Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP”; and “layer one multicast over DWDM,” where “DWDM” stands for “dense wave-division multiplexing.”

And that’s just a tiny sampling of what’s floating in the tech soup this week in Atlanta. Ahh, can’t you just taste it? (Don’t answer that.)

The great thing about Cable-Tec Expo is that everything is a deep dive, so if you’re going, be ready to take really good notes. And if you’re not going, fear not — technology editor Todd Spangler and I are, and we’ll be translating the scene back to you in the days and weeks to come.