CommScope John Ulm

CommScope has contributed more than a few chapters to cable technology’s history, and it is now helping to write the industry’s future. That’s a big reason the cable networking provider stepped up as a sponsor for CableLabs’ 4Front Conference this June, according to John Ulm.

As an engineering fellow at CommScope, Ulm—like his company—has been a longtime player in cable technology covering the last three decades. He was in on the ground floor of broadband, helping to develop the first cable modems while at LANcity, and he was a primary author of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 1.0 and 1.1 releases. His résumé also includes stints as senior technical consultant with YAS Corp, an engineering fellowship at Motorola’s Broadband Group and later ARRIS. Last fall, he was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers as part of the inaugural DOCSIS class.

These days, his work at CommScope focuses on the future, developing advanced technologies for broadband systems that range from next-generation distributed access architectures (DAA) and CableLabs’ 10G initiative to deep-fiber applications for cable modem networks and IP video innovations such as multicast Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR).

Ulm will bring that past and present work literally into play as a keynote speaker for the Play track at 4Front. The Play sessions will offer plenty of fun envisioning the future of gaming, wearable technology and fitness gadgets, but don’t assume that participants will be simply playing around. Ulm sees 4Front as an opportunity to share ideas about how to implement technologies from 5G to 10G, DOCSIS 4.0 and beyond.

“As cable pioneers ourselves, we know that progress depends on supporting an environment for innovation and collaboration,” he said. “This meeting of minds allows CommScope and other leaders to share our expertise in the most important areas impacting the cable industry. From global connectivity to health and education, we’re determining the future technologies for how we live, work, learn and play.”

So, what exactly does that future look like for Ulm and CommScope? Here’s the short answer: Communications networks will be not only speedy but also available everywhere, mixing wired and wireline connectivity. That will support a widening array of experiences such as 4K/8K video, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), cloud gaming and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. In short, future connections such as fiber to the home (FTTH), hybrid-fiber coax (HFC) and wireless will power our play in the next decade as the cloud gets pushed closer to the edge.

“We see the future of connectivity as seamless and deeply rooted in our daily lives,” Ulm said. “When our industry looks at the many pathways to that future, and asks whether we should embrace FTTH or HFC, wired 10G or wireless, 5G or Wi-Fi 6E—our answer is: all of these.”

That philosophy is shaping CommScope’s product lineup, and it will probably figure heavily in the conversations at 4Front.

“At 4Front, we’re making the case for this customized approach to the future of connectivity, and we’re demonstrating the many ways that we all can get there,” he said.


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