USH1858H - Radio frequency sensed, switched reverse path tap - Google Patents

Radio frequency sensed, switched reverse path tap Download PDF

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Publication number
USH1858H
USH1858H US09105407 US10540798A USH1858H US H1858 H USH1858 H US H1858H US 09105407 US09105407 US 09105407 US 10540798 A US10540798 A US 10540798A US H1858 H USH1858 H US H1858H
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US
Grant status
Grant
Patent type
Prior art keywords
signals
upstream
tap
system
rf
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US09105407
Inventor
Pieter G. Ibelings
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Cisco Technology Inc
Original Assignee
Scientific-Atlanta LLC
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Filing date
Publication date
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/60Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand] using Network structure or processes specifically adapted for video distribution between server and client or between remote clients; Control signaling specific to video distribution between clients, server and network components, e.g. to video encoder or decoder; Transmission of management data between server and client, e.g. sending from server to client commands for recording incoming content stream; Communication details between server and client
    • H04N21/61Network physical structure; Signal processing
    • H04N21/6156Network physical structure; Signal processing specially adapted to the upstream path of the transmission network
    • H04N21/6168Network physical structure; Signal processing specially adapted to the upstream path of the transmission network involving cable transmission, e.g. using a cable modem
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/10Adaptations for transmission by electric cable
    • H04N7/102Circuits therefor, e.g. noise reducers, equalisers, amplifiers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/16Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems
    • H04N7/173Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems with two-way working, e.g. subscriber sending a programme selection signal
    • H04N7/17309Transmission or handling of upstream communications

Abstract

A bidirectional communications system is provided for sending signals along a cable in a forward path from a central location to a plurality of remote receiver locations and for sending return signals along the same cable in a reverse path from the remote receiver locations to the central location. The communications system includes a plurality of taps placed along the cable for splitting the signals to be sent to the remote receiver locations, and a radio frequency sensed switch placed at each of the plurality of taps for sensing the return signals so as to turn on the reverse path when the return signals are present and to turn off the reverse path when no return signals are present.

Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to bidirectional cable television ("CATV") transmission and distribution systems and, more particularly, to a radio frequency ("RF") sensed switch at a tap for minimizing reverse noise ingress by terminating reverse paths that have no signal traffic.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many CATV transmission and distribution systems currently provide bidirectional communications. Typically, they contain bidirectional amplifiers for transmitting signals both from headends to subscribers and from subscribers to headends. FIG. 1 illustrates a bidirectional CATV transmission and distribution system 100 in accordance with the prior art. The CATV system 100 includes a headend 110, a trunk 120, and distribution lines 130 and 132. An amplifier 160 is provided for amplifying downstream signal 170 and upstream signals 180 and 182. Distribution line 130 connects subscriber drops 140 and 142, and distribution line 132 connects subscriber drops 144 and 146. Subscriber drops 140, 142, 144, and 146 connect subscriber station equipment 150, 152, 154, and 156, e.g., TV sets, respectively.

The station equipment 150, 152, 154, and 156 in the prior art includes upstream signal generation means as described in Canadian Patent No. 1,177,558 to Dufresne et al. (hereinafter the '558 patent). As disclosed in the '558 patent, at least one bidirectional amplifier 160 is usually connected in series with the trunk 120 for amplifying downstream signals 170 and upstream signals 180 and 182. In the prior art system, in addition to transmitting upstream signals, a significant amount of noise is passed upstream from the distribution lines, subscriber drops, and station equipment. This noise is typically caused by electronic or RF signals, poor terminal connections, ground currents, power lines and noise carried thereon, etc. Such noise generally arises on the subscriber drops and distribution lines and is subsequently fed into the trunk and headend in the upstream direction. As such, it has been found that bidirectional systems in accordance with the prior art have been unsuccessful because of a major noise gathering problem in the upstream direction. The noise is random and interferes to a prohibitive extent with legitimate signals transmitted upstream from the various subscribers. The noise problem has been referred to in the art as the "funneling effect" because the noise is aggregated and collected and funneled at the headend 110.

Many current CATV transmission and distribution systems attempt to resolve the above problem of noise ingress in the upstream direction. One such system is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,126,840 to Dufresne et al. (hereinafter '840 patent). FIG. 2 illustrates a bidirectional CATV transmission and distribution system 200 in accordance with the teachings of the '840 patent. The CATV system 200 includes a headend 210, a trunk 220, and distribution lines 230 and 232. Distribution line 230 connects subscriber drops 240 and 242, and distribution line 232 connects subscriber drops 244 and 246. Subscriber drops 240, 242, 244, and 246 connect subscriber station equipment 250, 252, 254, and 256, e.g., TV sets, respectively. The '840 patent further teaches placing narrowband upstream filters 260 and 262 in the distribution lines 230 and 232, respectively, and/or placing a narrowband upstream filter 264 in the trunk 220 for reducing upstream noise gathering. The narrowband upstream filters 260, 262, and 264 sense upstream signal energy and open when the signal energy exceeds a predetermined threshold.

According to one embodiment of the '840 patent and referring to FIG. 3, upstream signals are contained in one or more narrow bands within the low band 310 preferably centered at two frequencies, 11 MHz, as illustrated by reference number 320, and 26 MHz, as illustrated by reference number 330, with a bandwidth of 1 MHz. Narrowband upstream filters are located in the distribution lines 230 and 232. A result of this technique is that upstream signals outside the narrow bandwidth of the upstream signaling bands are blocked. According to this technique, the likelihood of overloading the upstream amplifiers, e.g., amplifier 270 in FIG. 2, by noise signals is low.

A disadvantage of this technique, however, is that it attempts to prevent noise from entering the CATV system at the amplifier level (e.g., amplifier 270), where hundreds of subscribers are typically connected for funneling upstream signals. As such, the likelihood of an amplifier being switched "on" is very high, i.e., at least one of the many subscribers connected to that amplifier is always transmitting upstream signals at any given time. In other words, since there are so many subscribers connected to each amplifier, the probability of no one using that amplifier and, thus, turning it "off", is practically zero because someone is always transmitting upstream signals. As a result of placing filters at the amplifier level, the CATV system in accordance with the prior art is still susceptible to random noise entering the system even when the majority of the subscribers are not transmitting upstream signals, as long as at least one subscriber is transmitting upstream signals. Moreover, with the switch placed at the amplifier level, if the switch ever fails, then the hundreds of subscribers connected to that amplifier will lose their CATV services. In addition, the more upstream signals funneling into the amplifier, the greater the possibility of false triggering of the amplifier. This is due to the problem of noise compounding from the many subscribers. Accordingly, there is a significant need for an improved apparatus and method for minimizing the problem of reversed noise ingress by terminating reverse paths that have no signal traffic.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a bidirectional CATV transmission and distribution system according to the prior art.

FIG. 2 illustrates another bidirectional CATV transmission and distribution system according to the prior art.

FIG. 3 illustrates signal frequencies of the upstream signals in accordance with a technique of the prior art.

FIG. 4 illustrates a bidirectional CATV transmission and distribution system in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 4, a bidirectional CATV transmission and distribution system 400 in accordance with the teachings of the present invention is shown. The CATV system 400 includes a headend 410, a trunk 412, and a distribution line 414. An amplifier 415 is provided on the trunk 412 for amplifying upstream and downstream signals. A cable television tap 405 is coupled at its input 416 and its output 418 to the distribution line 414 for tapping off a portion of the radio frequency (RF) signal provided on the distribution line 414. According to the present invention, the tap 405 includes RF switching means for selectively coupling upstream signals from subscriber equipment through a coupler 420 to the headend 410 via the distribution line 414 and other components, as will be explained in greater detail below.

As mentioned, the tap 405 includes the coupler 420, which splits off a portion of the RF signal for subscriber equipment 498 and passes a portion of the RF signal at its output 418 for processing by further cable television equipment (not shown). The tap 405 also includes a diplex filter 425 for providing highpass filtering for incoming, downstream signals and lowpass filtering for outgoing, upstream filtering. The downstream signal is provided in the forward direction from the first diplex filter 425 to a second diplex filter 495 and then to a multiple output splitter 480 for transmitting the split signal to subscriber drops 485. Subscriber equipment 498, such as telecommunications equipment, computers, televisions, set top decoders, etc., can be coupled to the subscriber drops 485 to receive the downstream signals and to also transmit upstream signals to the headend 410 via the tap 405.

In the reverse direction, an RF sensed switch 430 is provided for selectively forwarding the upstream signal from the subscriber equipment 498 to the headend 410. More specifically, the tap 405 includes a detector 450 that is coupled by a directional coupler 440 to receive upstream signals. When upstream signal energy exceeds a predetermined threshold, a control signal is provided via a control line 460 to direct the RF switch 430 to couple the upstream signal from diplex filter 495 to diplex filter 425. The threshold level may be adjusted by adjusting a driver/threshold adjuster circuit 455. During periods of time when no reverse activity is present or when the reverse activity does not exceed the predetermined threshold, the RF sensed switch 430 reverts to its "off" position in which upstream signals are not coupled to diplexer 425. By doing this, the tap 405 advantageously minimizes the funneling of noise in the reverse band since all reverse paths not in use are terminated.

Preferably, the tap 405 further includes means for powering the RF sensed switch 430. This can be done, for example, by including a direct current (DC) power supply 465 for providing a DC voltage, e.g., 24 volts. A microprocessor 470 could be coupled to the power supply 465 for powering the switch 430 via a power line 475 or, alternatively, the power supply 465 could be connected directly to a power port of the RF switch 430. It will be appreciated that the microprocessor 470 could also, if desired, perform the operations of both the detector 450 and the driver/threshold adjuster 455, or it could be coupled to either or both of the detector 450 or the driver/threshold adjuster 455. It will be further appreciated that, depending on the speed of the detector 450 and the RF sensed switch 430, there might be a need for placing a delay line 435 between the directional coupler 440 and the RF sensed switch 470 in the reverse path. The delay line 435 provides time for the RF sensed switch 430 to react to the incoming upstream signal without truncating the first part of the upstream signal.

In contrast to the prior art CATV systems, the present system detects noise at the tap level by using an RF sensed switch 430 within the tap 405 itself, instead of at the amplifier level 27 as illustrated in FIG. 2 and instead of including switching circuitry outside the tap, which requires separately manufactured, installed, housed, powered, and operated devices. By detecting and preventing noise from entering a CATV distribution and transmission system at the tap level within the tap, the ability to restrict transmission of upstream noise is much greater. For example, a tap typically connects four to eight subscribers, which means that the probability that no subscribers will be transmitting upstream is much higher than at the amplifier level, where typically hundreds of subscribers are connected to each amplifier. A result and advantage of this technique is that more noise is kept out of the CATV distribution and transmission system, since taps with no reverse traffic are switched "off" and, thus, random noise from subscribers connected at those taps is effectively prevented from entering the CATV system. Furthermore, this is conveniently done without introducing additional parts into the CATV system and in a simple, inexpensive manner that is transparent to the service provider and installer.

As shown in FIG. 4, the tap is the first place where noise may enter the CATV system. Therefore, by stopping noise from entering the CATV system at the tap itself, the total amount of noise entering the CATV system is much lower. In contrast, by sensing noise at the amplifier level, noise from hundreds of other subscribers with no reverse traffic may still enter the CATV system if even one of the many subscribers is transmitting upstream signals. Furthermore, use of additional switching circuitry outside the tap can result in the introduction of even more upstream noise into the system. An even further advantage of the present invention is that placement of the RF sensed switch within the tap itself and within the same housing means that, if the switch fails for some reason, then only four to eight subscribers, i.e., the subscribers coupled to the drops 485, will lose their CATV services.

Accordingly, it is an advantage of the present invention that the tap including the RF sensed switch minimizes the problem of reverse noise ingress by terminating reverse paths that have no signal traffic.

Claims (16)

What is claimed is:
1. A bidirectional communications system wherein signals are sent along a cable in a forward path from a central location to a plurality of remote receiver locations and return signals are sent along the same cable in a reverse path from the remote receiver locations to the central location, the communications system comprising:
a plurality of taps placed along the cable for splitting the signals to be sent to the remote receiver locations, wherein at least one tap includes a radio frequency (RF) sensed switch for enabling the reverse path when return signals from the remote receiver locations coupled to the at least one tap are present and for disabling the reverse path when no return signals from the remote receiver locations coupled to the at least one tap are present.
2. The communications system of claim 1, wherein the at least one tap comprises:
a power supply for providing power to the RF sensed switch.
3. The communications system of claim 1, wherein approximately four to eight remote receiver locations are connected at each of said plurality of taps, including the at least one tap.
4. The communications system of claim 1, wherein the communications system is a cable television system.
5. The communications system of claim 4, wherein the central location is a headend.
6. The communications system of claim 4, further comprising:
subscriber equipment located at the remote receiver locations.
7. A method of minimizing reverse noise ingress in a reverse path of a bidirectional communications system wherein signals are sent along a cable in a forward path from a central location to a plurality of remote receiver locations, and return signals are sent along the cable in the reverse path from the remote receiver locations to the central location, the method comprising the steps of:
placing a tap along the cable for splitting signals to be sent in the forward path to subscriber equipment located at remote receiver locations coupled to the tap, wherein the tap includes an RF sensed switch for selectively enabling the return signals through the tap;
operating the RF sensed switch to enable the reverse path through the tap when a return signal from the subscriber equipment is present; and
operating the RF sensed switch to disable the reverse path through the tap when no return signal from the subscriber equipment is present.
8. The method of claim 7, further comprising the step of placing approximately four to eight remote receiver locations at the tap.
9. The method of claim 7, further comprising the step of determining that signal energy in the reverse path of the tap exceeds a predetermined threshold, in response to which the enabling step occurs.
10. The method of claim 7, wherein the disabling step is a default condition that occurs automatically.
11. A tap for use in a cable television system, the tap comprising:
a forward path for routing RF signals to output terminals to which subscriber equipment is coupled;
a reverse path for routing signals from the subscriber equipment to the cable television system; and
an RF sensed switch for selectively enabling the reverse path in response to detecting the presence of a signal from the subscriber equipment.
12. The tap of claim 11, further comprising:
a direct current power supply coupled to the RF sensed switch for providing power thereto.
13. The tap of claim 11, wherein the forward path comprises:
a directional coupler for splitting off the RF signals from the cable television system;
a filter coupled to the directional coupler for filtering the RF signals; and
a multiple output splitter for dividing the RF signals for transmission to the output terminals.
14. The tap of claim 11, wherein the reverse path comprises:
a filter for filtering return signals from the subscriber equipment; and
a detector for controlling the RF sensed switch.
15. The tap of claim 11, further comprising:
a detector for detecting the presence of a return signal from the subscriber equipment in response to which a control signal is provided by the detector to the RF sensed switch to enable the reverse path.
16. The tap of claim 15, further comprising:
a threshold adjuster coupled to the detector for setting a threshold, wherein the detector provides the control signal in response to determining that return signal energy exceeds the threshold
US09105407 1998-06-26 1998-06-26 Radio frequency sensed, switched reverse path tap Abandoned USH1858H (en)

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US09105407 USH1858H (en) 1998-06-26 1998-06-26 Radio frequency sensed, switched reverse path tap

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USH1858H true USH1858H (en) 2000-09-05

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Cited By (18)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6453473B1 (en) * 1998-09-15 2002-09-17 John C. Watson, Jr. Access device and system for managing television and data communications through a cable television network
US20020199202A1 (en) * 2001-06-05 2002-12-26 Hunter David R. Multiple input data receiver for cable television systems
US6714598B2 (en) 2002-04-29 2004-03-30 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Burst-mode combining of reverse path radio frequency signals
US6804828B1 (en) * 1998-12-03 2004-10-12 Masprodenkoh Kabushikikaisha Tap device of cable broadcasting system
US20050034167A1 (en) * 2003-08-06 2005-02-10 Hillel Weinstein Wideband CATV tap device
US20080010488A1 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-10 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Format Converter with Smart Multitap and Upstream Signal Regulator
US20080010512A1 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-10 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Format Converter with Smart Multitap
WO2008011270A2 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-24 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Communication system for video and bidirectional data transmission between a cable head- end and a plurality of subscribers
US20090260049A1 (en) * 2008-04-14 2009-10-15 Tibor Urbanek Automatic drop/house return termination system
US20090320085A1 (en) * 2008-06-23 2009-12-24 Jon-En Wang House amplifier with return path gating
US20100223651A1 (en) * 2008-06-23 2010-09-02 Jon-En Wang Amplifier with noise reduction
US20100251323A1 (en) * 2009-03-30 2010-09-30 Jackson David H Upstream bandwidth conditioning device
US20100244980A1 (en) * 2009-03-30 2010-09-30 Olson Thomas A Method and apparatus for a self-terminating signal path
EP2383993A1 (en) * 2010-04-30 2011-11-02 NXP Semiconductors B.V. Bi-directional device
WO2012024038A1 (en) * 2010-08-20 2012-02-23 Commscope Inc. Of North Carolina Tap units having reverse path burst mode detection circuits and related methods of identifying reverse path noise sources and reducing reverse path noise funneling
US8850505B2 (en) 2009-04-01 2014-09-30 David Zilberberg System for reducing noise in a CATV home amplifier upstream path and a method thereof
US9647851B2 (en) 2008-10-13 2017-05-09 Ppc Broadband, Inc. Ingress noise inhibiting network interface device and method for cable television networks
US20170155182A1 (en) * 2015-11-27 2017-06-01 Technetix B.V. Cable Tap

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US5343239A (en) * 1991-11-20 1994-08-30 Zing Systems, L.P. Transaction based interactive television system
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US3846703A (en) * 1973-02-28 1974-11-05 Tocom Noise control system for transmission network
US3886454A (en) * 1973-08-13 1975-05-27 Rca Corp Control apparatus for a two-way cable television system
US3924187A (en) * 1974-05-14 1975-12-02 Magnavox Co Two-way cable television system with enhanced signal-to-noise ratio for upstream signals
US4118669A (en) * 1976-10-15 1978-10-03 Premier Cablevision, Limited Remote disconnect-reconnect tap for cable television systems
US4752954A (en) * 1984-12-19 1988-06-21 Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba Upstream signal control apparatus in bidirectional CATV system
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Cited By (30)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6453473B1 (en) * 1998-09-15 2002-09-17 John C. Watson, Jr. Access device and system for managing television and data communications through a cable television network
US6804828B1 (en) * 1998-12-03 2004-10-12 Masprodenkoh Kabushikikaisha Tap device of cable broadcasting system
US20020199202A1 (en) * 2001-06-05 2002-12-26 Hunter David R. Multiple input data receiver for cable television systems
US7254828B2 (en) * 2001-06-05 2007-08-07 Acterna Llc Multiple input data receiver for cable television systems
US6714598B2 (en) 2002-04-29 2004-03-30 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Burst-mode combining of reverse path radio frequency signals
US20050034167A1 (en) * 2003-08-06 2005-02-10 Hillel Weinstein Wideband CATV tap device
US20080010512A1 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-10 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Format Converter with Smart Multitap
US20080010488A1 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-10 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Format Converter with Smart Multitap and Upstream Signal Regulator
WO2008011270A2 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-24 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Communication system for video and bidirectional data transmission between a cable head- end and a plurality of subscribers
US20080022344A1 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-01-24 Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Format Converter with Smart Multitap with Digital Forward and Reverse
WO2008011270A3 (en) * 2006-07-07 2008-06-26 Scientific Atlanta Communication system for video and bidirectional data transmission between a cable head- end and a plurality of subscribers
US7783195B2 (en) 2006-07-07 2010-08-24 Scientific-Atlanta, Llc Format converter with smart multitap with digital forward and reverse
US7903972B2 (en) 2006-07-07 2011-03-08 Riggsby Robert R Format converter with smart multitap
US7885542B2 (en) 2006-07-07 2011-02-08 Riggsby Robert R Format converter with smart multitap and upstream signal regulator
US20090260049A1 (en) * 2008-04-14 2009-10-15 Tibor Urbanek Automatic drop/house return termination system
US8667550B2 (en) 2008-06-23 2014-03-04 Pct International, Inc. House amplifier with return path gating
US8769597B2 (en) 2008-06-23 2014-07-01 Pct International, Inc. Amplifier with noise reduction
US20100223651A1 (en) * 2008-06-23 2010-09-02 Jon-En Wang Amplifier with noise reduction
US20090320085A1 (en) * 2008-06-23 2009-12-24 Jon-En Wang House amplifier with return path gating
US9647851B2 (en) 2008-10-13 2017-05-09 Ppc Broadband, Inc. Ingress noise inhibiting network interface device and method for cable television networks
US20100251323A1 (en) * 2009-03-30 2010-09-30 Jackson David H Upstream bandwidth conditioning device
US20150201239A1 (en) * 2009-03-30 2015-07-16 Ppc Broadband, Inc. Upstream bandwidth conditioning device
CN102450002A (en) * 2009-03-30 2012-05-09 约翰·梅扎林瓜联合有限公司 Method and apparatus for a self-terminating signal path
US8082570B2 (en) * 2009-03-30 2011-12-20 John Mezzalingua Associates, Inc. Method and apparatus for a self-terminating signal path
US20100244980A1 (en) * 2009-03-30 2010-09-30 Olson Thomas A Method and apparatus for a self-terminating signal path
US8990881B2 (en) * 2009-03-30 2015-03-24 Ppc Broadband, Inc. Upstream bandwidth conditioning device
US8850505B2 (en) 2009-04-01 2014-09-30 David Zilberberg System for reducing noise in a CATV home amplifier upstream path and a method thereof
EP2383993A1 (en) * 2010-04-30 2011-11-02 NXP Semiconductors B.V. Bi-directional device
WO2012024038A1 (en) * 2010-08-20 2012-02-23 Commscope Inc. Of North Carolina Tap units having reverse path burst mode detection circuits and related methods of identifying reverse path noise sources and reducing reverse path noise funneling
US20170155182A1 (en) * 2015-11-27 2017-06-01 Technetix B.V. Cable Tap

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