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Cable/Video

CableLabs Sets PacketCable Deadline

Cable technology suppliers have until July 13 to respond to a request for information (RFI) issued by CableLabs this week for PacketCable 2.0, an emerging specification and architecture that will enable cable operators to deploy and support a wide range of voice, video, and data services across wired and wireless access technologies.

Among other RFI-related deadlines, vendors must inform CableLabs of their intent to respond by June 8. Respondents have until June 11 to submit questions. CableLabs said it will answer those questions by June 25.

CableLabs is billing the RFI as an important milestone toward the cable industry's deployment of PacketCable 2.0, the follow-on to more IP voice-centric specs such as PacketCable 1.x and the multimedia-focused PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) platform.

Issued by CableLabs in April 2006, PacketCable 2.0 incorporates the session initiation protocol (SIP) and is based on Release 6 of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) as developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) . The spec also happens to be the subject of the latest Light Reading's Cable Industry Insider report. (See PacketCable 2.0: Roadmap for Convergence?.)

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), which claims to have "a very mature" SIP-based embedded multimedia terminal adapter (e-MTA) implementation, will be among the suppliers responding to the RFI, according to a spokesman. A Cedar Point Communications Inc. official said the VOIP specialist is reviewing the RFI.

Other obvious candidates include Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nortel Networks Ltd. , Scientific Atlanta , and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE).

The RFI documentation sheds some light on the testing roadmap CableLabs expects to follow for equipment based on PacketCable 2.0 and PacketCable Residential SIP Telephony. CableLabs is now ready to begin certification testing on what is termed the "Embedded Digital Voice Adapter" (E-DVA), which embeds a Docsis cable modem and a Residential SIP Telephony (RST) client, as well as analog ports for telephone devices. E-DVAs may also include digital ports.

CableLabs expects to be ready to qualify RST application servers by the fourth quarter of 2007, and several other PacketCable 2.0 components -- including the P-CSCF, S-CSCF, and I-CSCF -- as a "single entity" by the first quarter of 2008, the RFI notes.

The P-CSCF (Proxy-Call Session Control Function) serves as a SIP proxy; the S-CSCF (Serving-Call Session Control Function) provides session control for customers accessing services on the PacketCable core network; and the I-CSCF (Interrogating-Call Session Control Function) is a SIP proxy located on the edge of the PacketCable Network.

CableLabs was careful to point out that the RFI will not rank responses nor generate an "approved vendor" list. Instead, the RFI is soliciting supplier input on areas such as product configurations, features, product development roadmaps, trial and deployment plans, and cost models. Operators, CableLabs added, will use this information to help them plan their PacketCable 2.0 deployment strategies.

CableLabs said responses will also be considered for inclusion in its new PacketCable 2.0 Applications Lab in Lousville, Colo. The lab is already populated with an IMS core network from Ericsson, a voice application server from Cedar Point, and SIP-based endpoints from other suppliers. (See CableLabs Opens Lab.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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