OpenCable Architecture

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OpenCable Architecture by Michael Adams is the Winner of the 2001 Cable Center Book Award!

Learn how to bring digital TV, data, and interactivity to the television.

  • Examine the new architectures being developed by the cable industry as ...
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OpenCable Architecture by Michael Adams is the Winner of the 2001 Cable Center Book Award!

Learn how to bring digital TV, data, and interactivity to the television.

  • Examine the new architectures being developed by the cable industry as part of the OpenCable initiative
  • Review the recent history of interactive TV, including the Time Warner Full Service Network and Pegasus program
  • Understand the concepts of hybrid fiber coax architecture
  • Learn how the cable TV industry is evolving with converging with the data networking industry

The cable industry is in the midst of a revolution. Existing cable systems that were engineered for broadcast television are being called on to support a host of new applications and services which require upgrading those cable systems to high-speed, two-way communications networks. OpenCable Architecture is the first book to focus on this new technology, answering many questions and describing how the components of an OpenCable network interconnect.

Written by one of the primary architects of the OpenCable initiative, this book explains key concepts in practical terms. It describes the digital headend, optical transport, distribution hub, hybrid-fiber coax, and set-top terminal equipment and how these componenets are interconnected.

Whether you're a television, data communications, or telecommunications professional, or an interested layperson, OpenCable Architecture will help you understand the technical and business issues surrounding interactive television services. It will provide you with an inside look at the combined efforts of the cable, data, and consumerelectronics industries to develop those new services.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578701353
  • Publisher: Cisco Press
  • Publication date: 12/3/1999
  • Series: Networking Technology Series
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 7.62 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Adams is a Senior Project Engineer with Time Warner Cable, responsible for all aspects of networking in the Pegasus Digital Program. He is co-chair of the JEC Digital Standards Working Group and chairs Working Group 3 for the SCTE Digital Video Standards Committee. Michael is one of the primary architects of the OpenCable initiative. He has authored the Point-Of-Deployment module (OCI-C2) specification and was the primary author of the network interface (OCI-N) specification. He is a founding member of the OpenCable Technical Team. Michael graduated from the University of Bristol, England in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Michael previously worked at Bell North Research focusing on Fiber to the Home, SMDS, Frame Relay, and ATM projects.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Why Digital Television?

For example, early transistor-transistor logic (TTL) chips contained between about 30 and 100 transistors-a huge technical breakthrough at the time. TTL was quickly replaced with complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS). With the reduced power dissipation of CMOS, larger integrated circuits were built. Soon, an entire computer processor could be placed on a single chip. Enter the microprocessor.

This phenomenon gave rise to one of the most frequently cited harbingers of technological change: Moore's Law. Hardly a technical presentation goes by-regardless of industry segment-without someone mentioning Moore's Law in the context of startlingly swift technological growth.

Moore's Law stems from Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore, who observed that the number of transistors on a chip was doubling every 18 months. When he confirmed this trend, it was dubbed Moore's Law, an axiom that continues with no end in sight until perhaps 2030. (For more information on Moore's Law, see pressroom/kits/bios/moore.htm.) Millions of transistors are now routinely placed on a silicon die, and many chips are now I/O-limited, which means that the cost of the chip has more to do with the number of leads and the packaging cost than the number of transistors it contains.

Very large scale integration (VLSI) encourages the designer to place as many functions as possible on a single chip. The ultimate goal: a single chip that performs all the functions of a product (whether it is a television receiver, a set-top, or a personal computer). Because it is tricky to mix analog and digital functions on a chip, it makessense to do all possible functions in the digital domain. For example, relatively complicated digital circuits are replacing even trivial analog functions, such as audio mixing.

Analog-to-Digital Conversion

When it was realized (in the 1970s) that almost all analog processing could be done with more precision and much greater flexibility in the digital domain, the race was on to shift more analog functions to digital.

The first step in this process is called analog-to-digital (AID) conversion. The analog signal is sampled (measured in time close enough together to adequately represent the analog signal) and its instantaneous value is represented as a binary value. After A/D conversion, most analog signal processing can be done in the digital domain. This technique is known as digital signal processing (DSP). After signal processing, a process known as digital-to-analog (D/A) conversion reconstructs the (modified) analog signal.

Early DSP applications had an analog input and an analog output, but soon the digital representation became the reference signal that was stored or transmitted. An early user of these techniques was the music industry, which embraced digital techniques so roundly, it is nearly impossible to purchase cassette tapes and vinyl records today. Their successor, the compact disc, was introduced in the 1980s and harnessed Moore's Law as a way to dramatically improve sound quality and the amount of music stored per CD (relative to analog predecessors). By the 1990s, digital techniques had evolved (thanks in part to Moore's law) to tackle the hundredfold increase in bandwidth of video (compared to audio). A/D conversion and DSP are now cost-effective tools for television services and have found their way into most of the technologies described in Chapter 4, "Digital Technologies." This trend shows no sign of slowing down and continues to drive the migration to digital television. Convergence with the Personal Computer Moore's Law also made the development of personal computers (PCs) practical. Early PCs were very limited in performance and memory-remember when 4 MB of RAM was a big deal? But reductions in price and quantum leaps in performance combined to create a multibillion dollar industry around the PC. Standalone PCs remain somewhat limited in what they can do; all applications must be loaded from stored media, and it is still somewhat slow and cumbersome to share data with other PC users. Still, PC networking is transforming the PC; it is now possible to pipe in applications and data from the Internet and to use the PC as a communications tool. The development of standard protocols to support World Wide Web services also introduced a new mode for research and entertainment. PCs are now powerful enough to perform sophisticated multimedia processing (using digital signal processing). Suddenly, convergence has reemerged as a buzzword to describe the personal computer as the focus of entertainment, computing, and communications services in the home. In the home, the notion of convergence will also create a divergence of in-home electronics, where the swift impact of Moore's Law creates customized, inexpensive chip-sets that can be installed in many communications and entertainment gadgets. The cable modem gained wide U.S. acceptance in 1999; industry analysis firm Paul Kagan Associates (PKA) anticipates that 1.6 million cable subscribers will use a cable modem, at $40 per month, to link to the Internet at high speed (27 Mbps shared over a node versus 56 Kbps via dial-up). That figure could leap to 20 million subscribers by 2005, according to PKA (including other broadband connectivity devices, such as DSL and wireless modems). By the end of 2000, as many as three million advanced digital set-tops (that include a cable modem) will populate U.S. homes. Add to that DVD players, personal organizers, and boxes such as those made by TiVo and Replay that enable truly on-demand television viewing. Convergence has many faces, but it is really just the parallel application of evolving digital technologies across different fields. The technology of the Internet and the World Wide Web are already finding their way into advanced analog set-top converters...

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Table of Contents


1. Why Digital Television?
Digital Technology Evolution.
Silicon Integration and Moore's Law. Analog-to-Digital Conversion. Convergence with the Personal Computer. Internet Convergence. New Services. New Business Models.
Advantages of Digital Television.
Channel Expansion. On-Demand Services. Quality. Security. Flexibility. Data Transmission.

2. Analog Cable Technologies.
Analog Channel Expansion. The Hybrid Fiber Coax Upgrade.
HFC Topology. Linear Optical Transmission. Return Path Activation.
Summary. References.

3. The Analog Set-Top Converter.
The Cable Network Interface.
Cable Tuner. NTSC Demodulator. Out-of-Band Receiver. Out-of-Band Transmitter. Media Access Control.
Conditional Access System.
Analog De-scrambler.
On-Screen Display. Audio Processing.
Volume Control. Digital Music. BTSC Stereo and SAP Decoding.
Microprocessor Subsystem.
Central Processing Unit. Memory Subsystem. Display and Keypad.
RF Modulator. RF Bypass Switch. Inputs.
Cable Input. Infrared Receiver. Diagnostic Port. Data Port.
RF Output. Baseband Video. Baseband Audio. Infrared Transmitter.
Software Architecture.
Operating System Software. Device Drivers. Applications43
Case Studies.
CFT-2200. 8600X. Limitations. Lessons Learned.
Summary. References.
Book. Internet Resources.

4.Digital Technologies.
Video Compression.
MPEG-2 Compression. Other Video Compression Algorithms. Details of MPEG-2 Video Compression.
Audio Compression.
MPEG-1 Layer 2 (Musicam). Dolby AC-3. Other Audio Compression Algorithms.
Data. System Information. MPEG-2 Systems Layer.
Timing and Synchronization. Packetization. Multiplexing. Conditional Access. Limitations of MPEG-2 Systems Layer.
Transmission Mechanisms.
Baseband Transmission. Broadband Transmission.
Summary. References.
Books. Periodicals. Standards. Internet Resources.

5. Adding Digital Television Services to Cable Systems.
Drivers for Digital Television.
Channel Expansion. Direct Broadcast Satellite Competition. High Definition Television. Consolidation with Other Digital Service. Radio Frequency Return Traffic. Business Communications. Network Management.
Transmission of Digital Television. Out-of-Band Data Communications.
Drivers. Out-of-Band Architectures. Forward OOB Channel. Reverse OOB Channel. Out-of-Band Evolution.
Out-of-Band Channel Termination.
Hub-Level Addressing. Return Traffic Aggregation. Shared Media Access Control.
Headend-to-Distribution Hub Interconnection.
LAN Extension Products. SONETs. ATM Networks. IP Networks.
Summary. References.
Books. Periodicals. Internet Resources.

6. The Digital Set-Top Converter.
Cable Environment. Overview. The Cable Network Interface.
Cable Input. Tuner. QAM Demodulator. NTSC Demodulator. Out-of-Band Channel Termination. Out-of-Band Transmitter. Media Access Control. Telephone Modem.
Transport Processing. Conditional Access System.
Digital Decryption. Analog De-scrambling.
Video and Graphics Processing.
MPEG-2 Video Decoding. Analog Video Processing. On-Screen Display. Digital-to-Analog Conversion. NTSC Encoding.
Audio Processing.
Dolby AC-3 Audio Decoding. BTSC Stereo Decoding. Audio Synthesis.
Microprocessor Subsystem.
Central Processing Unit. Memory Subsystem. Display and Keypad.
RF Modulator. RF Bypass Switch. Inputs. Outputs.
RF Output. Baseband Video. Baseband Audio. S-Video. Component Video. IEEE 1394. Digital Audio. Infrared Transmitter.
Device Drivers. Operating System. Applications. Limitations.
Summary. References.
Books. Standards. Internet Resource.

7. Digital Broadcast Case Studies.
Architectural Comparison.
Satellite Distribution to Headends. Headend-to-Subscriber Distribution. Split Security Model. Out-of-Band Channel. Central Versus Local Subscriber Management.
Head-End In The Sky Model. Local Subscriber Management. DigiCable Summary.
Pegasus Phase 1.0 Goals. Pegasus Request for Proposal. Pegasus Architecture. Digital Broadband Delivery System.
Summary. References160
Book. Periodical.


8. Interactive Services.
Internet Convergence. Goals of Interactive Services. Interactive Versus On-Demand Services. Interactive Services.
Navigation. Information Services. Communications Services. Electronic Commerce Services. Video Games. Enhanced Television Services.
Applications Model.
Client Applications. Server Applications. Distributed Applications.
Application Requirements.
Software Download. Activation. Communications. Streaming Media.
Application Resources.
Set-Top Resources. Software Download Mechanisms. Activation and Synchronization Mechanisms. Communication Mechanisms.
Summary. References.
Books. Periodicals. Standards. Internet Resources.

9. Interactive Cable System Case Studies.
Time Warner Full Service Network.
FSN Network Architecture Goals. Network Overview. Services. Applications Model. Application Requirements. Applications Resources. Lessons Learned.
Pegasus Phase 1.1 Goals. Network Overview. Services. Applications Model. Application Portability. Applications Resources. Lessons Learned.
Summary. References212
Standards. Internet Resources.

10. On-Demand Services.
Interactive Versus On-Demand Services. Internet Comparisons. Goals of On-Demand Services. On-Demand Services.
Movies-on-Demand. Music-on-Demand. Post-Broadcast On-Demand. Special Interest Programming. Distance Learning. Library Access. Video Mail.
On-Demand Reference Architecture.
Provisioning Network. Distribution Network. Media Servers. Conditional Access. Server Placement. Switching Matrix. Set-Top.
Summary. References.

11. On-Demand Cable System Case Studies.
Time Warner Full Service Network.
Full Service Network Overview. Basic Star Architecture. Logical ATM Connectivity. MPEG Mapping into ATM. MPEG Delivery from Server to Set-Top. Lessons Learned. FSN Summary.
Pegasus Phase 2.0.
FSN Learning Experience. On-Demand Services. New Channels. Server Location. Fiber Transport. Transport Protocol. Switching Matrix. Pegasus Phase 2 Summary.
Summary. References.
Standards. Internet Resources.


12. Why OpenCable?
Goals of OpenCable.
New Suppliers. New Services. Retail Availability.
Market Forces.
Competition. Technology.
Government Regulation.
1992 Cable Act. 1994 FCC Report and Order.1996 Telecommunications Act. 1998 Report and Order on Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices. Digital Carriage. Emergency Alert Systems.
Retail Issues.
Cable Service Management. New Services. Existing Suppliers. Signal Theft.
OpenCable Solutions.
The OpenCable Process. The OpenCable Architecture. The OpenCable Specifications. Retail Availability.
Summary. References.
Books. Periodicals. Internet Resources.

13. OpenCable Architectural Model.
OpenCable History. OpenCable Process.
Specification Development. Interoperability.
OpenCable Reference Diagram.
Specified Interfaces. Specified Components.
Relevant Standards Bodies.
Summary. References.
Books. Internet Resources.

14. OpenCable Device Functional Requirements.
Provide for Integrated Service Environments. Open and Interoperable. Portability. Renewable Security. User Interface. Scaleable. Efficient Application and Network Design. Operational Compatibility. Backward Compatibility.
Goals for the OpenCable Set-Top Terminal. OpenCable Device Models.
Leased. Retail. Core Services. Core Functions and Features. The Cable Network Interface. Conditional Access System. Video and Graphics Processing. Audio Processing. Microprocessor Subsystem. Remote Control.
Extension Requirements. Performance. Summary. References.
Book. Standards. Internet Resources.

15. OpenCable Headend Interfaces.
Goals. Issues. Reference Architecture. Development Status.
Goals. Issues. Reference Architecture. Development Status.
Goals. Issues. Development Status.
Summary. References.
Book. Papers. Standards. Internet Resources.

16. OCI-N: The Network Interface.
Scope of OCI-N. Issues. The Frequency-Domain View. Channel Types. OCI-N Protocol Layering.
In-Band Channels. Out-of-Band Channels.
Summary. References.
Book. Standards.
Internet Resources.

17. OCI-C1: The Consumer Interface.
Goals. Issues. OCI-C1 Family.
Analog NTSC. Component Video. Home Digital Network Interface.
Summary. References.
Book. Standards.
Internet Resources.

18. OCI-C2: The Security Interface.
Reference Diagram.Drivers.
Regulatory. Retail. Cable Ready Digital Television. High Definition Television.
Retail Cable Issues. Retail Opportunities. Summary of Approaches. System Architecture.
Conditional Access System. Out-of-Band Communications. Two-Way Operation. One-Way Operation. DOCSIS Operation.
The POD Module.
POD Module Variants. POD Module Architecture. PCMCIA Compliance. MPEG-2 Transport Stream Interface. Out-of-Band Interface. CPU Interface.
Content Protection.
Why Is Content Protection Required? The Content Protection System. Content Protection System Integrity. POD Interface Copy Protection. Host Revocation.
Digital Set-Top. Digital Set-Top with DOCSIS Cable Modem. Cable Ready Digital Television. Issues for Cable Ready Devices.
Summary. References.
Standards. Internet Resources.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    Excellent source of information on OpenCable architecture

    The opencable industry has great promise and potential. In its early formative stage, various industry participants (hardware and software developers, service providers, cable MSO engineers, etc.) really need and will benefit greatly from this book. Michael Adams has done a great job of pulling together various information pieces in a coherent framework in an understandable and easy to read manner: history, rationale, process, market and technical details of the OpenCable architecture; current status and future direction. I recommend this book highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2000

    The fastest way to get up to speed on digital cable

    If you need a way to get employees, vendors, customers or anyone else up to speed quickly on how cable television networks are being re-designed for digital and interactive services, this is the book for you. It clearly and concisely covers the widely varying technical issues involved in designing broadband systems. I think it will a handy reference tool to both technical and non-technical readers.

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