Your SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Jargon Descrambler, 2011


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

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

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

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.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at