Spring 2005  

Intergovernmental Activities
Governments and organizations met at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) a year ago in Geneva to develop principles for “building the information society.” Not surprisingly, they said that there should be “particular emphasis on the development and adoption of international standards.” The most controversial decision was to ask the Secretary-General of the United Nations to develop recommendations on Internet governance; this is widely viewed as an attempt to take governance away from the U.S. government-supported private sector process and put it under control of the U.N. The full texts of the Draft Declaration of Principles and the Draft Plan of Action are available from the SCTE standards secretariat. The next general meeting is this November in Tunisia, and Internet governance remains controversial as does the use of intellectual property in standards.

Along the same line, a series of meetings of the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is illuminating. The strong views on the part of some of the participants that “open standards” means that the standards must be freely available and there can be no royalties or other fees for patents is part of a broader view in many countries that the developing world should be given the intellectual property rights of more advanced countries without the need for compensation. There is even a proposal for disclosure of patents to a WIPO committee, with failure to disclose invalidating the patent. With regard to standards, the proponents of these views have not chosen to explain how the standards organizations will survive or why patent holders will be willing to give up their rights.

 

ISO and IEC Developing Privacy Standard
ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 is currently balloting a Final Draft International Standard on privacy—ISO/IEC DIS 20886, International Security, Trust and Privacy AlliancePrivacy Framework.The purpose of the document is to support the implementation of legal rules on privacy and data protection where they exist and the formulation of such rules where they are lacking.

 

Welcome Newest Members
Adtec Digital
Harris
Hillcrest Communications
TTI Networking

 

a word from Steve
With things relatively quiet on the cable standards front as this is written (February), we turn our attention to what’s going on in other parts of the standards world that have some relevance to cable.The continued explosion of consortia is worth noting, particularly in the home networking arena—it seems there are as many groups with as many different standards as there are customers! The good news is that this will settle down as the market decides which way to go. But in the other focus area, governments (particularly those outside the United States) are increasingly trying to bring standardization under more control, including control of the intellectual property of the participants. Unfortunately, the market may not be able to sort this out.
We’ll keep you informed.

Broadband over Power Lines Update
Steve Oksala of SCTE attended a meeting of the IEEE BPL Study Group immediately following the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies in January. There is standardization work going on in the area of basic hardware (including safety requirements) in the IEEE Power Society that seems to have reasonable objectives and a reasonable process. Interference with other radio services remains the principle issue at this level. For the interface between lines and houses, there are still two approaches—one advocating using wireless high-speed data from a pole to a small surrounding area, the other using direct entrance into the home.

Once inside the house the situation seems far less clear. There are numerous organizations that intend to use the power lines inside to move data of various sorts around to various devices that can use them. This could further aggravate the current uncertain state of home networking. In addition to the players that have been around in the BPL space (e.g., the HomePlug Powerline Alliance), we heard in this meeting about two brand-new organizations. The Universal Powerline Association (UPA) will “promote industry standards” and has among its members Ambient, Ascom, Schneider Electric, Sumimoto Electric Industries, and Toyocom. At virtually the same time Matsushita, Mitsubishi, and Sony have formed the CE-Powerline Communications Alliance (CEPCA) to “create broadband powerline specifications, allowing various powerline audio, video and home networking systems to connect without glitches.” In Europe, OPERA is a well-funded research program, and the European Commission has announced the Networked and Electronic Media Initiative (NEM) to form an integrated interoperable platform for the delivery of everything. (The commission intends to look at standards, identify overlapping, and “pick the best,” including Digital Rights Management.)

It’s beginning to look like there will be not only lots of different wires in the home, but lots of different protocols trying to coexist on the same set of wires. There was no indication of meaningful efforts to resolve this, and no indication among the attendees of concern about homeowners installing it all.

Forum and Consortium News
Although Samsung and Philips started in late 2003, it was not until November 2004 that they were joined by HP, the Digital TV Industry Alliance of China, and ACCESS Co. Ltd to form the Universal Home Application Programming Interface (UHAPI) Forum. The forum will standardize “hardware-independent application programming interfaces (APIs) for analog and digital televisions, set-top boxes….” Specifications and other information are available at http://www.uhapi.org.

The Broadband Content Delivery Forum (BCDF) and the Service Creation Community (SCC) are merging effective Jan. 1, 2005. The new Broadband Services Forum (BSF) will provide tools and information to address service and technology issues.

The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) and the Object Management Group (OMG) have announced an alliance to help unify toolsets for users of DMTF’s CIM and OMG’s XMI/UML.

HP, IBM, Intel and Sun Microsystems have formed the Globus Consortium to develop and promote grid-computing software for businesses.

The Emergency Interoperability Consortium has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to promote the development and proliferation of data sharing standards for emergency response.

Sony, Matsushita (Pioneer), Samsung, and Philips have formed the Marlin Joint Development Association to develop specifications to build Digital Rights Management (DRM) functions into devices.

OASIS, which develops standards for e-business, has adopted a new intellectual property policy that allows new Technical Committees to establish themselves in either RAND mode (where there is an obligation to license on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms) or RF mode (adds the proviso that the license must be free of royalties or other fees). There are additional obligations on contributors and participants. The policy is available at www.oasisopen.org/who/intellectualproperty.php.

 

Newly Approved Standards
Since the winter edition of the Standards Bulletin, the SCTE Engineering Committee has approved the following as SCTE standards:

SCTE 06 2004
Composite Distortion Tests (CTB, CSO) (Reaffirmation)
SCTE 09 2005
Cold Bend (Revision)
SCTE 48-3 2004
Test Method for Shielding Effectiveness Part 3: Using GTEM Cell
SCTE 89-2 2004 IPCable2Home Standard Part 2: Cable Home Networking 1.1
SCTE 102 2004 Cable Retention Force Testing of Trunk and Distribution Connectors
SCTE 104 2004 Automation System Compression System Communications

In the same time period,ANSI has approved 20 (revision) and 56.

This brings the total as of Feb. 14 to 144 approved SCTE standards, 140 of which have been approved as American National Standards by ANSI.

Standards Activities Elsewhere
The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) has produced a new standard for Signalling System No. 7 (SS7)—Emergency Telecommunications Service, expanding on the “High Probability of Completion (HPC) Network Capability” described in standards T1.631. The work is based on ITU-T Recommendation E.106, International Emergency Preference Scheme for Disaster Relief Operations.

CEA has initiated a new project, CEA 2027-A, A User Interface for Home Networks Using Web-based Protocol. The new work will enable user control of networked devices via another device’s web browser graphical user interface.

The TV-Anytime specification for program information data has been confirmed as an Internet standard. The content reference identifier has been accepted as a registered URL prefix; the “crid://” scheme can provide a unique name space for scheduled television programs similar to that used to identify web pages.

The IEEE has started a number of new projects for the 802 series of standards. 802.1ah facilitates the scaling of provider-bridged networks; 802.1aj specifies the function of a MAC relay with two MACs; 802.1ak improves VLAN and MAC topology convergence time; 802.3ar improves congestion management; 802.3as is for applications that require additional optional fields within Ethernet frames; 802.11u improves the ability to interface with external networks; 802.11v provides a standardized approach to manage stations; 802.16h improves coexistence for license-exempt operation; and 802.17b adds support for spatial reuse of other frame

 

NIST Activities
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced (Federal Register Jan. 12, 2005) that it intends to revise FIPS 140-3, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules. NIST is interested in public input on compatibility with industry standards; new technology areas; possible additional levels of security; requirements for physical security; and portability of applications.

NIST has released a new report on Voice over IP Security. Special Publication 800-58, Security Considerations for Voice Over IP Systems, is available at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/index.html.

The Secretary of Commerce has approved the withdrawal of 17 Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). They are 8-6, 9-1, 31, 48, 55-3, 66, 73, 83, 87, 92, 95-2, 102, 112, 127-2, 159, 171, and 173-1. The withdrawals are largely because the subject information is maintained by some other organization, and there is no value added by providing a FIPS. (For example, FIPS 127-2 is simply the adoption of ANSI X3.135-1992.)

 

ATSC Standard Adopted by FCC; Call for Patent Information
ATSC A/65B, Program and System Information Protocol for Broadcast and Cable, has been adopted into rule by the Federal Communications Commission. Details, and an electronic copy of the standard, are available at http://www.atsc.org.

MPEG LA LLC has issued a call for patents that are essential to the ATSC digital television standard. The purpose of the call is to begin the process that can result in a joint patent portfolio license (patent pool) for access to the technology required by the standard. ATSC documents A/53C, A/65B, A/69, A/74, and A/54A

 

Believe It or Not
One of the giants of the standards community is Oliver Smoot, former chairman of the board of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and past president (term completed in December) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).What many people don’t know, however, is that Ollie himself is a standard.While a freshman at MIT, his fraternity brothers measured the bridge over the Charles River by laying Ollie down; the distance was 364.4 and one ear.When the bridge was rebuilt, a sign provided information about the measurement “standard.” It even found a place in Sears & Zemansky’s University Physics, where a problem at the end of the first chapter has units in “smoots.” See http://www-tech.mit.edu/V119/N49/this_week-_49_c.49f.html for more detail.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) produces many standards—including cable-related standards from its Study Group 9 submitted by SCTE. Now ITU has been ranked as one of the world’s most enduring institutions by a panel of scholars set up by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. It joins the U.S. Constitution as the two government selections. Others chosen were GE and Sony (business), Dartmouth and Oxford (academia), and the Olympic Games and the Rolling Stones (entertainment).

 

 

Engineering Committee
focus:
Management of the SCTE Standards Program
chair:
Charlie Kennamer (Comcast)
Cable Applications Platform Subcommittee (CAP)
focus:
Standards for applications platform development
chair:
Jean-Pol Zundel (Comcast)
Data Standards Subcommittee (DSS)
focus:
Standards for data services delivery
chair:
David Fellows (Comcast)
Digital Video Subcommittee (DVS)
focus:
Standards for digital video signal delivery
chair:
Dr. Paul Hearty (Ryerson University)
Emergency Alert Systems Subcommittee (EAS)
focus:
Cable television’s participation in the EAS program
chair:
Steve Johnson (Time Warner)
Hybrid Management Sub-Layer Subcommittee (HMS)
focus:
Protocol suites for management systems involving hybrid fiber/coax networks
chair:
Hung Nguyen (Time Warner)
Interface Practices and In-Home Cabling Subcommittee (IPS)
focus:
Standards for the cables, connectors, and housings used in broadband telecommunications distribution plants
chair:
Brian James (B&W Engineering)

 

SCTE Standards Staff
SCTE Headquarters
140 Philips Road, Exton, PA 19341-1318

Stephen P. Oksala, vice president, standards
610-524-1725, ext. 204; soksala@scte.org

Thomas Russell, director, standards
610-524-1725, ext. 228; trussell@scte.org

Robin Fenton, manager, standards operations
610-524-1725, ext. 244; rfenton@scte.org

For general information and assistance:
www.scte.org
standards@scte.org