Your Cable Show Jargon Descrambler


or “The Four Anys” (anything, anywhere,
anytime, any device), IP
video, or cable-over-IP, a lot of what
we’ll see and hear at this week’s
Cable Show in Chicago is about
where cable goes next: Other
screens, beyond the TV.

So yes, you’re going to see a
lot of video on nontraditional displays:
Tablets, lots of tablets, smart phones and
PCs. And yes, you’ve seen that before. What’s
different — and what will continue to be different
— is the plumbing underneath.

All together now: It’s IP. Internet protocol.
(Which is different than “the Internet.”)

Why does this matter? Because we’re moving
to a world where stuff can be done without
set-top boxes, at least as they exist in hardware.
Now, it’s set-tops; next, it’s gateways that bridge
between set-tops and cable modems. And ultimately,
it’s video delivered completely over IP,
from the network, to the end devices.

Because of that, the industry can’t exactly
call the shots anymore, in terms of how things
do or don’t interact with that set-top box. This
may make you cry out in delight, or it might
make you twist a napkin into shreds.

Either way, in a world where other forces call
the shots, it’s important to glom onto the most
pervasive batch of open standards.

Which is why, at this week’s show, if you happen
to peer under the hood of just about anything,
you’ll probably run into one, if not all, of
these terms: MoCA, DLNA, DTCP-IP, “the DRMs,”
and HTML5. (Maybe a little SAML, here and

A quick refresher:

MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance): It describes
how to put the bits on the coaxial wires
already inside homes, to connect everything up.
Good for flinging multiple HD streams around
the house.

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance): It tells
each connectable device how to describe itself,
iconically. I’m a PC, my icon is this; I’m a tablet,
my icon is this.

DTCP-IP (Digital Transmission Copy Protection
over Internet Protocol): Security, in the form of
copy protection, for those IP-connected, videohungry

DRM (Digital Rights Management): Security
for the video asset, as opposed to security for
“the ride” over the pipes.

HTML5 (Hypertext Markup Language version
5): A way to render the user interface on those
other connected screens.

As for SAML (pronounced as a word that
rhymes with camel) — it stands for Security Assertion
Markup Language, and it’s about single
sign-on — so that when you surf from one video
source to another, you don’t have to log in all
over again.

See you in the Windy City!

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at