CableLabs Goes Global, Folding in Cable Europe

MSO-BACKED R&D GROUP SEEKS WORLDLY SCALE
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The waves of cable-industry consolidation have begun to reach the shores of its technology and R&D activities.

CableLabs is taking on more worldly responsibilities after adding 14 new MSO members from across Europe, Asia and Latin America, highlighted by a “transition of the activities” of Cable Europe Labs to the U.S. research-and-development consortium.

Louisville, Colo.-based CableLabs has also executed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a partnership with Cable Europe, the Brussels-based regulatory and policy arm. The arrangement is identical to CableLabs’ current relationship with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, CableLabs president and CEO Phil McKinney said.

Cable Europe Labs, a cable technology consortium, has been tasked with researching emerging technologies, developing specifications and spearheading vendor certification testing for the region. Employees of Cable Europe Labs are being offered positions with the new, combined entity, McKinney said.

By way of this more global-focused approach, CableLabs has added nine new European members, and five new members from Asia and Latin America. The new, larger CableLabs will count 51 MSO members serving roughly 120.9 million subscribers.

Membership fees, paid on a quarterly basis by MSOs, are a key source of revenue for CableLabs, but McKinney said the decision announced last week “is not a numbers game; for us, it’s about global scale.”

That scale will also reach into CableLabs specifications. For example, the consortium has integrated the work underway with C-DOCSIS, a flavor of DOCSIS that emerged in China and has been tailored for apartment buildings and other high-density multiple-dwelling units.

C-DOCSIS, which uses regular DOCSIS 2.0 or DOCSIS 3.0 modems in tandem with a stripped-down version of a cable-modem termination system called the Cable Media Converter, is now an official part of CableLabs’ DOCSIS specifications.

“We no longer have a situation where the spec is ‘forked’ between us and China going in a different direction,” McKinney explained.

McKinney said CableLabs is also working to ensure global alignment on the coming DOCSIS 3.1 specs so the work will result in unified interfaces that can be used by modem makers, silicon vendors and MSOs from around the world.

One apparent casualty in this global shift is the role of Excentis, an independent test lab based in Ghent, Belgium, that currently handles Cable Europe Labs’ certification and qualification testing for EuroDOCSIS and EuroPacketCable equipment. McKinney said a transition plan is underway to migrate those duties into CableLabs as well.

Certification isn’t Excentis’ sole source of revenue. The company also offers a range of testing services and products, including ByteBlower, a traffic generator/ analyzer, and VoIPexaminer, a software platform that monitors the quality of VoIP service on cable networks.

Excentis was not reachable for comment by press time.

TAKEAWAY

U.S. industry R&D consortium CableLabs will fold in Cable Europe Labs in a bid to build “global scale.”

CableLabs Crew Goes Global

The addition of these 14 new members extends the CableLabs total to 51 MSOs serving about 120.9 million cable subscribers, up from the 80.8 million subs its 38 members served as of June 2012.

Com Hem (Sweden)

Get (Norway)

Kabel Deutschland

(Germany)  

Liwest (Austria)

Ono (Spain)  

Tele Columbus (Germany)

YouSee (Denmark)

Ziggo (Netherlands)

ZON (Portugal)

J-Com (Japan)

PT Link Net (Indonesia)

Topway (Shenzhen, China)  

WASU (Hangzhou, China)

Cablevisión (Argentina)

Source: CableLabs

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