Cable membership group CableLabs is working with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to establish a TIP community lab in the organization’s headquarters in Louisville, Colo. The lab will be one of five community labs that TIP has launched.
The goal of the TIP community labs is to offer a collaborative environment for companies to work on TIP projects. The CableLabs lab is the second U.S.–based TIP lab besides the one in Facebook’s offices in Silicon Valley.
The first project that CableLabs will work on is virtual radio access network (vRAN) fronthaul. The goal is to figure out how cable’s Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) network might be more friendly to mobile backhaul and mobile fronthaul.
Joey Padden, CableLabs’ principal architect, wireless, said that the organization has been closely monitoring TIP for more than a year. When it saw the TIP fronthaul group start to form, it thought that would be a good area to work on in order to make DOCSIS more mobile friendly. The cable industry is closely watching the virtualization of the RAN network and the growth of small cells (wireless operators are adding more cell sites to their networks in preparation for 5G) because they view it as a big opportunity for cable.
The CableLabs TIP lab provides engineers with access to channel emulators, traffic generators, LTE and DOCSIS sniffers, hybrid-fiber coax networks, and multiple evolved packet core (EPC) networks.
According to Ike Elliott, chief strategy officer at CableLabs, wireless is one of the biggest areas of research for the organization. Some CableLabs members have wireless networks in addition to cable networks, while others work closely with wireless operators to provide fronthaul and backhaul services.
Although the TIP Community Lab has just launched, Elliott said that CableLabs is already seeing a lot of interest from non-traditional cable vendors that want to use the lab to get experience with DOCSIS networks. “DOCSIS works slightly differently than traditional Ethernet or microwave links,” Elliott said. “DOCSIS has its own protocol and its own parameters.”
Padden added that the TIP fronthaul group has more than 100 companies, and many of those are new to CableLabs. And for CableLabs’ members, this may open doors to new opportunities, and possibly new revenue streams for their DOCSIS networks.
More on TIP
CableLabs joined TIP about a year ago and Elliott is a member of the TIP Technical Committee. Facebook co-founded TIP in 2016, along with Intel, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, and SK Telecom. The group’s mission is to develop and deploy new networking technologies and its membership now includes more than 500 Internet companies, telcos, vendors, and system integrators.
Last week, at the second annual TIP summit, the group announced it is forming new project groups on three new areas including network slicing, artificial intelligence, and open radio access networks.