DOCSIS 3.0, PacketCable 2.0 and the CableCards

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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