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Summary:

CableLabs gave its annual update on many cable related technologies but the focus this year was PacketCable 2.0, CableCards and Docsis 3.0. A theme that emerged out of the meeting was the cable companies are likely to drag their feet on cable cards, and are likely […]

CableLabs gave its annual update on many cable related technologies but the focus this year was PacketCable 2.0, CableCards and Docsis 3.0. A theme that emerged out of the meeting was the cable companies are likely to drag their feet on cable cards, and are likely to use security as a way to slow down the process. At the meeting they were talking about making downloadable software available that makes set-top boxes more secure.

Mark Coblitz, Comcast Corp.’s senior vice president of strategy planning said that “The CableCARD is much more complex to install and manage versus a software-based system because the card itself is a physical device. With software, there are no…inventory control issues,” Coblitz added. Plus, “it’s more secure than the system we have today.”

Now for the good news. PacketCable 2.0 is a standard that has more inbuilt support for SIP, mobile voice services and SIP-enabled devices such as videophones. It also adds quality of service to IP applications. In other words, this could be the final nail in the coffin for independent IP service providers. Folks like Rogers are already testing hybrid WiFi/Cell phones which do seamless switching and send traffic over cable (IP) pipes to the cellular switch. CableLabs hopes that DOCSIS 3.0, will use “channel bonding” techniques and boost speeds on cable networks to 100 Mbps and higher and could be finalized by early 2006. Meanwhile, CED magazine editor Jeff Baumgartner asks the questions: Who needs 100 megs per second? I say, everyone!

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  1. Besides QoS, what VoIP features are needed in the link layer? What specific support does PacketCable have for SIP and why?

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  2. Why are hardware-based cable cards good and downloadable soft-client cards bad? Seems to be that software-based is the way the world has moved. Easier / quicker to download new features over the network rather than swapping out hardware. What am I missing?

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  3. Oh and re: 100Mbps – bring it on! Once the speed is there, new apps will be imaginged in short order. I recall someone once asked why I needed 1Mbps at home too and that seems kind of silly in retrospect.

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