Expo '17: Eye on Gigabit

As we gear up for the 35th SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, a few trends stand out as things to watch, both at the show and throughout the year. Mostly they center on gigabit Internet and related technologies. Thus far, 2017 has ...

Expo '18 trends to watch: DAA, wireless
Expo '18 trends to watch: DAA, wireless

As we gear up for the 35th SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, a few trends stand out as things to watch, both at the show and throughout the year. Mostly they center on gigabit Internet and related technologies.

Thus far, 2017 has been the year of DOCSIS 3.1, with wide deployments by operators large and small. At the big end, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Mediacom Communications have deployed DOCSIS 3.1-based gigabit Internet services across entire states and regions, while smaller operators such as Midco and Packerland Broadband have deployed in individual markets and surrounding areas. Modems remain somewhat difficult to obtain in quantity, and we'll be watching for news about that at Expo, both new product releases and certifications by CableLabs.

We'll also be watching for news about the ongoing development of Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1, and CableLabs is expected to make an announcement on it at the show. The Expo program includes five DOCSIS 3.1 workshops, including two on Full Duplex, one led by Cisco Distinguished Engineer Sangeeta Ramakrishnan and the other by Cisco Director of Strategy, Network Access Solutions, John Holobinko. Cisco provided a royalty-free Full Duplex DOCSIS reference design to the industry at large last August at the CableLabs Summer Conference. Other DOCSIS 3.1 workshops at Expo will focus on real-world lessons learned and how best to manage and optimize the technology in different scenarios.

BTR will also be hosting a DOCSIS 3.1 breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 19, featuring the CTOs of Mediacom and Midco, both of which companies have deployed D3.1 widely in their respective footprints. You can RSVP here.

Distributing gigabit service to all the various devices in the home is another point of interest, so we'll also be keeping an eye on WiFi and the somewhat related Internet of Things (IoT).

WiFi mesh is increasingly finding favor in the customer premises as a way to improve whole-home coverage and keep pace with increasing Internet speeds and numbers of devices online at a given place and moment. And those devices aren't just smartphones and tablets; more and more consumers now have smart home devices as well, such as remote electronic door locks and security cameras, thermostats, and so on, and all those things need to connect to the Internet, typically via WiFi.

On a related note, the security - or lack thereof - of some IoT/smart home devices has received negative attention recently, as with the WannaCry ransomware attack this summer, and we expect to see a greater focus on securing the smart home network. CableLabs has looked into this and found some daunting challenges, mostly related to inexpensive consumer products; many have little to no built-in security of their own, leaving them vulnerable to hacking and other malicious activities.

In addition to the high spots mentioned here, we'll be keeping an eye out for other interesting new technologies at Expo, and we'll be covering those on our website and through our video show dailies. Hope to see you on the show floor in Denver.

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