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CableLabs pulls in Euro Cable Labs, goes global

Tue, 08/13/2013 - 12:15pm
Brian Santo

CableLabs has taken over the activities of Euro Cable Labs, as of the beginning of July. Nine other European cable operators, most of them members of Euro Cable Labs, have become members of the CableLabs consortium.

In addition to the European companies joining, a smaller handful of companies from both Asia and Latin America have also become members of Cable Labs. The influx of new members instantly promotes CableLabs into a standards and technology organization with fully global reach. All members have agreed to standardize on a common version of the still-developing DOCSIS 3.1.

Euro Cable Labs as a separate entity is no more. The operation will continue with its current staff, only operating as part of CableLabs, under the CableLabs name. Its relationship with Excentis, an organization that does testing for a variety of access technologies, not just cable, will also continue in the near term, said CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney, but eventually all the testing and certification work that Excentis does for CableLabs will be brought in-house.

For the most part, cable operators the world over deploy much of the same technology based largely on the same or related standards, but there are some differences. One example is that DOCSIS channels in the U.S. are 6 MHz while Euro-DOCSIS channels are 8 MHz. Meanwhile, operators in China have developed a variant of DOCSIS designated C-DOCSIS, which relies on a version of a CMTS that does not perform some of the routing functions performed by common CMTSs. McKinney explained that China had developed C-DOCSIS more or less on its own, but has now contributed the technology back to CableLabs, and C-DOCSIS is now integrated fully as a variant of DOCSIS 3.0.

But that leaves DOCSIS 3.0 with three distinct variations. CableLabs called it “critical” that technology standards become aligned across all markets. A global alignment of technologies and strategies "de-risks the vendors' R&D spend," McKinney explained; vendors will no longer have to guess who might be first to deploy a new technology, and gamble on developing that variant first. To that end, members of CableLabs have agreed to standardize on DOCSIS 3.1

McKinney said, “Collaborating globally on technology standards and strategies will allow CableLabs to accelerate development of truly innovative technologies, bringing them to market faster, more cost effectively and at scale.” 

CableLabs already had some international representation with the membership of Liberty Global, itself representing several subsidiaries in multiple countries in Europe: Virgin Media, UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW, Telenet and VTR.  

The new European members include Com Hem (Sweden), Get (Norway), Kabel Deutschland (Germany), LiWest (Austria), Ono (Spain), Tele Columbus (Germany), YouSee (Denmark), Ziggo (Netherlands), and ZON (Portugal).

“The transition of Cable Europe Labs activities to CableLabs opens doors for cable and technology stakeholders globally,” said Mike Fries, chief executive officer, Liberty Global. “Working together and sharing key learnings from individual markets will enable members and technology suppliers to create innovative solutions to meet the current and future needs of subscribers on a global scale.”

The other international members are now J:COM (Japan), PT Link Net (Indonesia), Topway (Shenzhen, China), WASU (Hangzhou, China) and Cablevisión (Argentina).

This article has been edited to include remarks by CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney, adding reference to C-DOCSIS, and the ongoing operations of Euro Cable Labs and Excentis.

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