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Making the broadband dream a reality

Fri, 11/30/2001 - 7:00pm
Roger Brown

Google factor: 283

When it comes to cable modems, Father knows best.

It would be hard to find any one person who has a greater passion for broadband than Rouzbeh Yassini. He's an unlikely industry icon who grew to become known as the "father" of the cable modem during his tenure at LANcity Corp. After selling that company to Bay Networks, he then went to Cable Television Laboratories in 1997 as an executive consultant–and the man who took over the reins of the entire DOCSIS testing and certification program.

And what an incredible success story that's been. To date, 150 different versions of DOCSIS modems have been certified to meet the DOCSIS 1.0 specification, and more than 20 cable modem termination systems have been qualified under the program.

Industry estimates suggest there are more than 7 million high-speed cable modems that have been deployed in consumer homes and businesses, accounting for about 70 percent of the broadband market and easily outdistancing digital subscriber line modems.

But, without Rouzbeh's direction and incredible attention to detail, the DOCSIS program probably wouldn't have been the amazing success that it has been. That's not to take any credit away from the capable people who worked on DOCSIS at CableLabs–in fact, many of them were hired away by vendors–but it says an awful lot about a man who sticks to his principles.

With the DOCSIS 1.0 program a roaring success and DOCSIS 1.1 moving along nicely, Rouzbeh left CableLabs and turned his attention to his venture capital company, YAS Broadband Ventures. But the loss of CableLabs personnel forced Rouzbeh back to the R&D consortium in late 2000 to bring the DOCSIS 1.1 testing back on track.

Doing so wasn't easy. According to Rouzbeh, DOCSIS 1.1 consists of five specifications and runs more than 800 pages. There are roughly 5,200 protocol implementation conformance statement items and roughly 820 pages of automated test procedures. It's arguable that no one has more DOCSIS information locked in his head than Yassini.

He also wants to bring DOCSIS to computer-controlled cable modems and intends to supervise the introduction of DOCSIS 2.0, which features an advanced physical layer specification that allows operators to cram more bits in the upstream, making the service more symmetrical.

So what's next? Rouzbeh will stick around CableLabs, focused on the various iterations of DOCSIS, until a time comes when the testing and certification can be reliably passed off to a third party, much like UL testing is done. Once that occurs, Rouzbeh can again return to YAS, and keep an eye on companies that he's invested in, including Stargus, Chinook, Narad Networks and others.

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