CableLabs to Spec Open Access


Cable Television Laboratories Inc. unveiled the 'CableB2B' program, a new
initiative with the goal of creating specifications designed to automate
business communications between MSOs and outside companies that want to offer
Internet-based applications and services over operators' networks.

CableB2B will also handle how those services are offered through cable
modems, advanced set-top boxes and other cable-related technologies, CableLabs

The eventual specification will give Internet-service providers and
application-service providers 'a uniform mechanism for connecting to cable
networks for key business transactions,' CableLabs chief technology officer
David Reed said.

Reed likened CableB2B to the organization's 'Go2Broadband' initiative, an
Internet-messaging service designed to spur the retail cable-modem market.

The CableB2B spec will essentially ensure that MSOs won't have to reinvent
the wheel if and when they decide to allow other ISPs and service providers onto
their broadband networks.

CableLabs said it will build the spec with the help of a large group of
provisioning, network-management, billing and customer-care vendors. Operators
have argued that the back-office elements of open access are the most difficult
to execute.

Like other CableLabs projects, such as Data Over Cable Service Interface
Specification, it's expected that provisioning and billing-software vendors will
write to the CableB2B spec and CableLabs will test those products to ensure that
they adhere to it.

'CableB2B supports our efforts by simplifying the cooperative delivery of
advanced services with other service providers, where and when it makes solid
business sense,' AT&T Broadband senior vice president of advanced broadband
services Susan Marshall said in a press release.

Marshall, who is leading the CableB2B project, also spearheads the MSO's
open-access efforts, which have led to a technical trial in Boulder, Colo., and
a larger-scale pilot set to launch this fall in the Boston area.

'Eventually, we hope that CableB2B will provide the specifications for
uniformly linking Time Warner Cable's back-office management and billing system
to the ISP,' MSO senior vice president and CTO Jim Chiddix said in a prepared

Time Warner Cable is currently running a multiple-ISP trial in Columbus,

Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. have also made official plans to
launch open-access trials this year.

CableLabs said the initial spec is scheduled for
completion this fall, and vendors interested in participating should contact
CableB2B director Perry O'Neil at 303-661-9100