In an expected move following the first certification and qualification of equipment based on DOCSIS 1.1, CableLabs said it has frozen specifications tied to PacketCable.

Tied to that, CableLabs said it expects to align qualification testing of PacketCable-based products next year alongside the organization's existing DOCSIS testing schedule. CableLabs said it expects to complete its final PacketCable test plan by the end of this year.

As with DOCSIS, CableLabs has planned to offer four PacketCable testing waves in 2002. PacketCable's testing structure, with dry runs and final testing, will also closely mirror DOCSIS. The first DOCSIS certification wave for 2001 is slated to begin Jan. 21.

PacketCable Director Glenn Russell said the process will involve the testing of CMTSs and multimedia terminal adapters, which house cable modems, as well as call management servers on the access side of the network. Testing will also cover media gateways, media gateway controllers and signaling gateways—all components that hook into the PSTN (public switched telephone network). Rounding it out, PacketCable scrutiny will also touch "back office" elements such as provisioning.

Russell said CableLabs would hand out "qualified" status to equipment that passes the test. "Certification" status remains tied to DOCSIS-based cable modems, which would require 1.1 certification before moving on to the PacketCable testing stage.

Russell said CableLabs is still mulling over the vendor cost structure for PacketCable. DOCSIS product testing today costs vendors about $95,000.

Though Voice-over Internet protocol represents a large component of PacketCable, it represents just one of many IP-based applications and services expected to run across the advanced architecture. Others could include streaming media and video conferencing.