CableLabs Starts Wave 19, Advances CableHome Spec

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Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s busy week included the launch of its next wave of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification certification and the release of two key documents for its wide-ranging home-networking standard.

Five new entrants caught DOCSIS certification wave 19, which launched last Monday. Three cable-modem models and reference designs and two cable-modem termination systems are vying for the operability nod for the spec's advanced 1.1 version.

That round is expected to endSept. 21,with results released the following week.

The current DOCSIS 1.1 certification and qualification testing has been "ongoing" since wave 17. CableLabs and its vendor partners are still ironing out test procedures for the complicated specficiation, which is designed to handle advanced Internet-protocol voice applications and provide an underlying platform for the industry's PacketCable infrastructure.

On the cable-modem front, Askey Computer Corp. and Ericsson Inc. entered their DOCSIS 1.1-based models, and Texas Instruments Inc. submitted a cable modem reference design based on its TNETC405 chipset.

3Com Corp — which in June announced its intention to exit the consumer-broadband business and scrap its residential cable and digital subscriber line modems and CommWorks CMTS line — resubmitted its HomeConnect TailFin cable modem for wave 19.

That was done to meet 3Com's prior commitments to cable operators that have already deployed or purchased the company's DOCSIS 1.0 products, a spokesman said.

Like other vendors, 3Com must front a $95,000 fee to apply for certification in each round. That could be lower once CableLabs appoints third parties to lighten the certification and qualification testing load.

On the CMTS side of the DOCSIS 1.1 equation, Motorola Broadband Communications Sector added another CMTS to the mix — the DCM 2100.

Riverstone Networks Inc. entered its RS8600 chassis for DOCSIS 1.1 qualification for the first time, albeit in a roundabout way. That's because Tellabs Inc. and Terayon Communication Systems Inc. — which resells Riverstone's CMTS and routing gear — submitted re-branded versions of the equipment for 1.1 testing in earlier rounds.

More than 20 vendors also submitted cable modems and CMTSs for DOCSIS 1.0 testing.

One of the more watched entries will be Scientific-Atlanta Inc.'s WebStar modems, which have yet to win the coveted interoperability seal from CableLabs.

The WebStar DPQ model houses an S-A chipset, while the DPX model uses Broadcom silicon and is the product of a manufacturing and research-and-development partnership with Askey. S-A reported this month that it has shipped more than 150,000 WebStars so far.

CABLEHOME PROGRESS

CableLabs also took another step toward creating a specification for cable-based home-networking on July 20 by issuing two documents that lay out the technical groundwork for its CableHome initiative: an interim quality-of-service specification and a technical report that outlines CableHome's architectural framework.

That framework defines such physical elements as the home access device, which could be a residential gateway or even a gaming console, and the clients that link to it via the home network.

The QoS elements of CableHome will address time-sensitive, low-latency Internet-protocol applications such as voice and video. Home-networking equipment manufacturers are expected to build devices that adhere to the finalized spec.

Launched late last year, CableHome's goal is to build specifications that expand the capabilities of DOCSIS 1.1 and the PacketCable infrastructure. The combination will eventually enable consumers to share bandwidth and applications with a variety of home-networking devices.

Separately, CableLabs said it would hold a meeting tomorrow (July 31) with vendors in Westminster, Colo., to cover the CableHome road map in more detail.

CableLabs must still issue a few more documents going forward, said CableHome director Bernd Lutz. They include specifications that cover security between the HFC network and the home network, service provisioning for the remote management of home devices and home-network address management in a multiple ISP environment.

Draft documents that cover those issues are due for initial release later this year, Lutz said.

Following approvals, CableHome's specifications and related documents will then be released to the public.

Though CableHome is similar to DOCSIS in that products will be tested and certified based on the specifications, Lutz said the home-networking protocol must move more quickly than DOCSIS.

Cable's move into home networking "can't afford a lengthy time frame," Lutz said. "People are buying it today. Every month we don't come out [with specifications], we have to deal with legacy equipment."

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