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SCTE/ISBE standards initiatives spread into AI, smart cities, telehealth

The SCTE/ISBE, a standards-setting and training organization traditionally focused on the cable industry, is spreading its wings to seek out technical expertise for a batch of new standards covering areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, smart cities, autonomous transport and telemedicine.

SCTE/ISBE's new "Explorer" initiative will initially pursue technical standards tied to new and emerging service areas that are increasingly linked to cable's broadband networks. While some of those new standards will come out of activities that were subsets of the organization's 16 active working groups, the new Explorer program aims to usher in fresh ideas as well.

SCTE/ISBE hasn't named any companies outside the usual cable fold that will be part of these efforts. The organization has a prospective list it's working on, with "advanced talks" underway with several, according to Chris Bastian, the organization's SVP and chief technology and information officer.

"We want to attract new companies that we don't traditionally work with," says Bastian. While SCTE/ISBE will continue to involve companies and people with direct ties to cable standards efforts, "we want to get as many outside the industry inside these working groups as possible," he adds.

Each new working group under the Explorer umbrella will operate on its own clock. Some are underway now and others will be kicking off in the coming months.

Here are the initial seven working groups that are part of the Explorer program, with each focused on the creation of standards and operational practices for common platforms that support products and services applicable to cable operators:

  • Telehealth and Aging in Place. Group Chair: Dr. Sudheer Dharanikota, managing director, Duke Tech Solutions.
  • Telemedicine. Group Chair: Dr. Sudheer Dharanikota, managing director, Duke Tech Solutions.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Group Chair: Srilal Weera, principal engineer, Charter Communications.
  • Smart Cities. Group Chair: Charles Chapman, senior systems engineer, Alpha Technologies.
  • Autonomous Transport. This group (chairperson is to be determined) will also maintain a reference library of available solutions and technologies and liaise with other organizations that work on relevant technology and development of standards.
  • Extended Spectrum (up to 3.0 GHz). This group will also evaluate standards to determine how to best update them to match the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs. Group chair: Timothy Cooke, director of technology, Amphenol Broadband Solutions. Another working group is developing 3GHz hardline taps and passives, and chaired by Nick Segura, advanced engineering principal engineer, Charter.
  • Human Factors Affecting Network Reliability. This group (chairperson is TBD) will also seek to improve the human impact on the network via the reduction of network degradation downtime caused by human intervention, performance management techniques for workforces, and align with CableLabs and other industry efforts that are pursuing automated tools to drive proactive network maintenance.

These projects are expected to produce standards and operating practices as well as workforce training to support and accelerate the introduction of these new technologies and services onto the cable network, says Bastian.

The Extended Spectrum working group got underway in the fourth quarter of 2019, while the new Aging in Place, Telemedicine and Smart Cities working groups were started in February. The AI/Machine Learning will launch in April, and follow with the May debuts of the Autonomous Transport and Human Factors Affecting Network Reliability working groups, according to Bastian.

And more will follow. "The Explorer initiative won't stop with these seven; it's an evolving program," explains Bastian. "We think these [seven] are the hot spots right now, and the major topics of interest to our membership."

SCTE/ISBE's Explorer initiative also comes about as the cable industry attempts to reach out to and engage with other industries. CableLabs, for example, is planning to host 4Front, a cross-industry event set to take place from June 23-24 in Denver at the new Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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