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Yes, Virginia, There is a (Very!) Long-Term Future for DOCSIS Technologies

Contributed By John Chapman, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Cable Access Business Unit, and Engineering Fellow

Earlier this year, as part of CableLabs’ “Innovation Showcase,” in Atlanta, we showed how DOCSIS 3.0-based technologies can gracefully and powerfully scale, if operators were to continue increasing the number of digital channels they place into a DOCSIS bond.

The question we were endeavoring to answer was this: Is DOCSIS dead, or does it have another 15+ years of life in it? The answer is clearly the latter.  Why? Because the classification and QoS features in backbone routers (like our recently announced ASR 9000 System) are architected for massive speed, in terms of packets-per-second - and those features will migrate down into cable CMTS gear.

The demo for CableLabs focused on our 3G60 CMTS cards, which bonded 48 downstream channels and 12 upstream channels, using 256 QAM in the downstream, and 64-QAM in the upstream. The result was a 1.6 Gbps downstream pipe, and 300 Mbps upstream. But that was back in February. The bond size was generous, but still partial. When you consider the full spectrum capacity of cable television systems - from 54 MHz to 1 GHz, downstream, and from 5 MHz to 42 MHz upstream - clearly, there’s a lot more breathing room for wideband IP services.

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Cisco at Cable Connections

By now, you’re packed and ready to get to Chicago for The Cable Show. Last we saw you, as trade shows go, was six months ago, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). That’s when we announced our “Videoscape” strategy.

Quick refresher: Videoscape is our way to describe what happens when service providers integrate cloud, network and client, to deliver a more immersive customer experience.

Since January and CES, we’ve deepened our Videoscape efforts - with a focus on  reducing implementation complexity, while enabling service providers to roll out TV Everywhere style services.  We want to make sure it’s on your list of things to check out!

So, without further ado, here’s what’s going on with Cisco at the Cable Show (at least what’s public):

In the booth (#749):

  • Videoscape Experience: A showcase that unifies linear, on-demand and online content with a full lifecycle content management system that we call Videoscape Media Suite and powered by our CDN network.  Look for the 10-foot user interface (it’s kind of hard to miss) showing IP STB and soft clients running on IOS, Android and PC/Mac environments.
  • Videoscape Cloud: When you can’t put something in the end device, for whatever reasons, put it in a network that can optimize the experience for that end device. Our cloud contains elements of unified computing (UCS), transcoding into right-sized streams for different screens (CTM), and it’s a delivery platform for multi-screen video consumption (CDS). Why do it? To leverage the power of the network enabled cloud to reach your service to multiple end-points (managed and unmanaged) - all from a common back-end while retaining device independence.
  • Video over DOCSIS 3.0: Come see the CMTS that gives 10x the bandwidth at 1/10th the cost of D2 services.  Our CMTS platform can now demonstrate QoS levels for adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming; also check out our soft client for video playback in non-traditional end devices.
  • Cisco Prime Network Management: “Prime” is the umbrella name for our management and automation solutions for analyzing, designing, fulfilling and assuring network performance. It’s a modular suite of applications, designed to lower the total cost of ownership and to provide A-to-Z management for next-generation packet and transport networks.
  • Healthcare via TelePresence: For so many people, it’s not convenient or near to go visit the doctor. Cisco TelePresence offers person-to-person (and person-to-doctor) communication, unbounded by distance or physical location. As service providers continue to enter new commercial business segments, health care is a leading candidate. It’s ideal for telemedicine applications, it lowers the cost of care, and it provides a new and efficient way for physicians and hospitals to do business.
  • Service Provider Wi-Fi Solutions: Interested in adding carrier-grade Wi-Fi to your services mix? Check out our Next Generation HotSpot technology, which aims to simplify customer authentication and monetize WiFi networks. Also new: Come see our High Density WiFi, designed to provide wireless broadband coverage in sports and entertainment stadium environments.

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Deep Thoughts with Dr. Ken: Virtualization & Videoscape

Dr. Ken MorseContributed By Ken Morse, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group

It’s probably not all that surprising, given the state of the video marketplace these days, that what’s top of mind for me is the migration of video to IP (Internet Protocol) everything.

At this point, I think we’re all fairly clear on what the end game looks like – pick any definition you favor about “TV Everywhere” and “the four Anys” (anytime, anywhere, any thing, any device). I think we can all agree that that’s where we’re headed.

The challenge now is that so many different paths exist to get there. As usual!, right? Differences between service providers exist for understandable reasons: Starting position (which options were selected for bandwidth creation/preservation?), plant configuration (switched or not?), and economics (what’s the budget?)

As a vendor, one of the bigger challenges in building products for the IP video migration is identifying which elements to put in the toolbox, to support all of the different ways service providers are considering. There’s the QAM termination approach, there’s the “run high-speed data to the hilt” approach, and several other options in the middle.

My view is, serve them all by gradually “virtualizing” the elements in the toolbox.  Encapsulate the functionalities of a particular component - whatever it is - and then instantiate those same functionalities on another device.

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Join Us for an NCTA TweetChat

It’s a new world of media, and consumers want more: more content, more interactivity, and more personalization. They also want their entertainment available across more screens, and in higher quality. With Cisco video and content delivery solutions, you can give your customers the “Connected Life”: the ability to access any type of content, anywhere and anytime, on a variety of devices.

We’re interested in hearing what you think about this trend.  So please join our Video Solutions Marketing Manager Sachin Sathaye and Marcia Bana in Cisco’s NCTA TweetChat series. Please feel free to send any questions or topics of interest to @CiscoSPVideo.

When?

  • Session 1 Transcript: Thursday, June 2, 1:30-2:30 pm PDT (4:30-5:30 pm EDT)
  • Session 2 Transcript: Thursday, June 9, 10-11 am PDT (1-2 pm EDT)
  • Session 3: Thursday, June 23, 2-3 pm PDT (5-6 pm EDT)

How?
On the day of the event, login to http://tweetchat.com/ and follow the #ciscospchat hashtag. To join the chat, visit http://tweetchat.com/room/ciscospchat

Alternatively, you can use your favorite Twitter client (such as TweetGrid, TweetDeck)  or TwitterSearch to follow the chat hashtag #ciscospchat.  During the event, you can follow the discussion, contribute questions, and submit your own comments by using the same hashtag.

Who?
The session will be hosted by @CiscoSPVideo managed by the Cisco Service Provider Marketing team.

  • Sachin Sathaye, Service Provider Marketing Manager, Video Solutions,  @sachinsathaye

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NAB 2011 in Review

If I had to sum up how the 2011 NAB Show will be remembered in years hence, I’d say this: Proliferation pandemonium. The year of the explosion of video content types, formats, and profiles -- most of which require processing, storage, and distribution.

It’s a matrix of complexity that’s expanding at a pace both exhilarating and exhausting.

It was also the year of an unusual level of consensus amongst the various constituents of the video eco-system, many of them competitors. From content owners to technology providers to service providers, there’s one general acknowledgement about managing and scaling all these different platforms for content delivery: This is hard!

The TweetChat we hosted about hot topics at NAB showed that people are focused on streaming TV-like experiences to multiple screens. That, and transcoding, preparing video files in different formats, and adaptive bit rate techniques, to manage the consumer experience when network conditions aren’t ideal. (See “proliferation pandemonium”)

My crystal ball is no clearer than anyone else’s, but it was gratifying to see such a high level of interest in Cisco’s offerings for content distribution focused on secondary distribution, which we call Videoscape, and in our IP video contribution solutions. Likewise for booth activity and interest around the virtualization of video and IT functions, onto a common compute and storage architecture.

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