The year may be winding down, but the SCTE’s standards subcommittees are a little busier than usual, if that’s possible. "Once we first approve of a standard, nothing really happens, but five years after that, we need to reaffirm, revise or get rid of those standards," says Steve Oksala, SCTE’s vice president of standards. "What I’m seeing is, over the next year or so, a lot of maintenance or revision of existing standards and then in the second half of next year new architectural standards." The six SCTE standards subcommittees come up with the various standards and then approve them by a vote among the members, the latter of which consist of vendors and cable operator employees. Each subcommittee attempts to reach reconciliation with those who voted against a standard, but in the end the majority rules. From the subcommittee, a proposed standard makes its way to SCTE’s engineering committee, which Oksala says doesn’t make technical judgments on a standard. Once the engineering committee approves it, the standard is off to the American National Standards Institute. (SCTE became ANSI accredited in 1995.) ANSI posts the proposed standard for comment, and then it usually takes ANSI three or four months to approve a standard. SCTE also works with various private and international organizations on standards-related issues. What follows is Oksala’s rundown on what is on each subcommittee’s plate for the remainder of this year and into next year:

  • The Data Standards Subcommittee (DSS) also works closely with CableLabs, and over the next few months it will take on a major revision of DOCSIS 1.0 standards that will continue into next year. The DSS also is working on major updates on CableLabs’ PacketCable specification, or IPCablecom in SCTE-speak.

    "Between those two (IPCablecom and DOCSIS 1.0), we’ll probably see between 20 or 30 revised standards by next year," Oksala says. "There is some new work in DSS, and we expect more as CableLabs goes on, but the bulk of the work right now is DOCSIS and IPCablecom."

  • The Hybrid Management Sub-layer (HMS) Subcommittee is working on adding alternate protocols for monitoring networks using DOCSIS.

    "I’d like to say they’ll have a ballot out on this over the next couple of months," Oksala says. "The other thing HMS is doing is determining whether they want to take this stuff internationally. We did submit and get approved the three base standards in HMS, 25-1,-2 and -3, as international standards through IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). We have to determine over the next year or so if we want to submit any of the other HMS standards."

  • "It’s a fundamental question of whether our members want us to do that because it’s fairly laborious, and it takes a lot of time and money to do it."

  • "Like DVS, they have a bunch of standards that need to be revised because they’re reaching their fifth-year anniversary," Oksala said. "They’re doing some brand new stuff, and probably the most interesting one is a specification for mini-coax and another one for the associated connectors."

    The subcommittee is also looking at taking certain standards international, such as replacing the IEC’s standard on F-connectors with the SCTE’s version, as well as a new graphic symbols standard and a new standard on environmental definitions for outside plant.

  • "Last for IPS, but certainly not least, is a major effort to provide a cable industry guidance document to the National Electrical Code (NEC)," Oksala says. "What we’ve had over the years is cable operators doing installations based on their interpretation of NEC while the regulators think it (NEC) means something else. What were doing is developing a guidance document to both the operators and regulators that says what we think we need to do to be compliant with the NEC. That’s a very large effort that is going on." For a complete rundown on SCTE standards, including their current status and historical documents, check out the SCTE’s Project Register link at http://scte.org/content/index.cfm?pID=102. – Mike Robuck

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