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Cable Standards Go Global

3:00 PM -- The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has recently begun to move into the international standards world, beyond its historical focus on North America, and joined the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) as an associate member.

This means that as an organization SCTE may directly participate in the standards development activities of ITU's Study Group 9 (SG9) without the additional step of going through the U.S State Department for prior approval. ITU is an agency of the United Nations. As an associate member, SCTE may bring documents directly into the ITU process for eventual adoption as global ITU Recommendations (ITU parlance for “standards”), not via proxy as contributions of the United States government.

Until a year or so ago, the U.S. cable industry was represented in the international standards realm largely through CableLabs , led by their former CEO Dr. Richard Green. Dr. Green was also the chairman of SG9, whose charter is "television and sound transmission and integrated broadband cable networks." (Dr. Green is now a member of SCTE’s Board of Directors.)

SCTE standards adoption by ITU is not a completely new phenomenon. There are a number of SCTE documents -- for example, the Docsis and IP Cablecom (cable telephony) standards -- that have already been implemented by ITU-T. What's new is that SCTE is expanding its geographic reach, and taking a leadership role in the international standards adoption process for cable.

So, what standard to open with? This was actually an easy decision. "SCTE 130 Parts 1-8, Digital Program Insertion – Advertising Systems Interfaces" is one of our most popular and immediately relevant standards and, as it turns out, a very popular topic beyond cable applications alone.

SCTE 130 is designed to provide the interfaces and systems that enable ad servers to dynamically select and distribute stored program content based on whatever business rules are applied to the system.

A few of the seminal SCTE digital program insertion standards -- SCTE 35 for example -- are already "Recommendations" (as ITU-J.181), so SCTE 130 has been primed for adoption in this venue.

In July of 2010, the first two standards in the SCTE 130 suite were presented to SG9, with the remaining six documents to be formally introduced to the process at the upcoming meeting this month in Geneva. These standards will be brought forward for a "consent" vote in SG9, which is the intermediate step to ballot as proposed Recommendations by the global ITU-T body.

SCTE fully expects greater involvement in the international standards domain, in recognition of the important technical contributions by its standards members and participants.

— Thomas C. Russell, Director, Standards, SCTE

This is the latest installment of "Technically Speaking with SCTE," a new monthly blog of interviews and columns to provide Light Reading Cable readers with timely updates on the SCTE's initiatives and activities.

Greg_D 12/5/2012 | 5:11:30 PM
re: Cable Standards Go Global

Another great step for the SCTE or should I say Man Kind.  If I didn't know better, it sounds like it was previously planned.  Good Job

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:11:29 PM
re: Cable Standards Go Global

Well, that's one thing engineers are certainly very good at: planning.  And some take it to the next level by planning to plan. JB

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