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Amid the IP Video Tidal Wave, CCAP Offers a Lifeline

Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes

Cable multiple system operators (MSOs) are still grappling with the upsurge of broadband video usage that is taxing their bandwidth and escalating their costs for delivering high-speed Internet service. During an industry conference in early December, a Mediacom Communications Corp. executive said Netflix Inc. alone accounts for 40 percent of the company's broadband bandwidth usage, echoing similar reports by other cable companies.

With the increase in Internet usage expected to grow exponentially, the arrival of CCAP technology is coming just in time. CCAP, the Converged Cable Access Platform (pronounced see-cap), combines digital video and Internet data capabilities into a singular platform inside a cable headend. It's an emerging piece of inside plumbing, like combining hot and cold running water into a single pipe, that will become vitally important as cable manages the increasing demands of broadband delivery.

As reported in a new Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, As Internet Video Surges, CCAP's Coming to the Rescue, CCAP fits in nicely with ongoing industry trends.

Specifically, CCAP combines edge quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology used for digital video services with cable modem termination system (CMTS) technology used for Internet delivery and puts them into one device. The result is more efficient digital service management (in technical terms, greater density per port) and a large-scale reduction in the need for hardware equipment space and electrical power. As the situation currently stands, those associated costs threaten to knock the bloom off of the rose of cable Internet profits, the Heavy Reading report says.

In addition to cable's need to handle more over-the-top (OTT) video, the industry is combining traditional QAM video with Internet capability as it migrates toward all-IP service delivery. Inside homes, MSOs increasingly are installing Docsis-fueled set-top boxes (STBs) and QAM video/IP data hybrid gateways while also serving the growing base of smart TVs, tablets and other broadband-connected devices. CCAP supports Docsis 3.0 (D3) and can dovetail with fiber-based passive optical network (PON) bandwidth plans. CCAP also supports green initiatives, the report says.

In October, the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo became a coming-out party for CCAP. Companies from the edge QAM and CMTS camps showed CCAP units or upgraded products deemed to be "CCAP compliant," while others signaled their intention to enter the market.

Now the CCAP market is blossoming with initial products from well-known players: Arris Group Inc., Casa Systems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., CommScope Inc., Harmonic Inc. and Motorola Inc. (its Home division is being acquired by Arris). Most of the products are in the trial stage, and 2013 is expected to be a year of initial deployments and results. Other suppliers could enter the market with hardware or system support software products, or they could benefit from the overall CCAP initiative in other ways.

The report explains CCAP and the goals and major drivers behind the platform, as well as its implications for cable operators and suppliers. Included is a look at known CCAP activity by six suppliers that have entered the market.

— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider

This report, "As Internet Video Surges, CCAP's Coming to the Rescue," is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/cable.

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