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Cisco CCAP Gets NOS Nod

Alan Breznick

Still scrambling to make up lost ground in the emerging market for next-gen cable access architecture, Cisco has signed up its second European MSO for its initial Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) solution.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced Tuesday that the Portuguese cable operator NOS has deployed the vendor's modular CCAP solution, which includes the uBR10K cable modem termination system (CMTS) chassis, a separate RF Gateway 10 universal edge QAM modulator, and high-density DS384 line cards. NOS, a multi-dimensional communications provider, also has a 4G mobile service. It offers more than 600,000 WiFi hotspots, operates more than 200 cinemas, and runs a large video club in Portugal.

Specifically, NOS has seen 94% of its subscribers actively use additional cloud-based video services since introducing those services a few months ago, according to an Ovum report cited by Cisco (subscription required). As a result, the cable operator is sensing the need for a flexible approach that converges video and data services on a single, more powerful network.

"We have seen consistent growth in our IP delivered video services since the launch of our Iris platform, which has in turn increased pressure on our broadband access network," NOS CTO Miguel Veiga Martins said in a press release. "By converging the two, we are ensuring that we can invest the right capacity in the right places at the right time."

NOS, an early user of Cisco's Videoscape architecture for multiscreen video service, is also drawing on the vendor's Evolved Services Platform to orchestrate the software that manages capacity shifts from the video side to the DOCSIS side on the CCAP platform. This makes it easier for the provider to move capacity back and forth between video and broadband services, giving it much more service agility.

The CCAP win for Cisco followed a deployment deal with the Danish MSO Stofa. The vendor is striving to put the finishing touches on its fully integrated CCAP device. This much-anticipated, next-gen chassis, known as the cBR-8, is slated to enter lab trials with up to 10 cable customers this summer, including five of the largest MSOs in North America and Europe. Plans call for launching it commercially by early 2015.

"I'm still hoping for a Christmas present this year," Joe Cozzolino, senior vice president and general manager of service provider video infrastructure at Cisco, told us at the NAB show in Las Vegas two months ago. "The message is resonating with customers."

The CCAP market is continuing to heat up, particularly in North America. Infonetics Research Inc. said in a report last week that worldwide first-quarter sales of CCAP equipment jumped 177% from the previous quarter to more than $250 million. Sales of traditional CMTS gear plunged 76% as operators shifted more capital spending to the next-gen cable headend platform.

Global CCAP channel shipments surged 229% during the quarter, setting another record for combined CMTS and CCAP channel shipments, the report said. Yet overall shipment revenue for the category fell 6% to $332 million, due to the big percentage drop in CMTS shipments from a much larger base.

More ominously for Cisco, it slipped to second place behind Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) in CMTS/CCAP revenue market share for the first quarter, thanks mainly to the surge in CCAP shipments. Arris, which came out of the starting gate faster with its integrated CCAP chassis, zipped by Cisco in the Infonetics rankings. (See Arris Starts Off Year Strong.)

Casa Systems Inc. , a relative newcomer banking on the cable industry's transition to CCAP, also enjoyed another strong quarter. Infonetics reported that Casa's CCAP/CMTS revenue rose 13%, largely because of its integrated CCAP chassis. (See Telenet Chooses Casa for CCAP and Casa Seizes Early CCAP Lead.)

CommScope Inc. and Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) are also vying for share in the rapidly developing CCAP market. We'll continue to track this space closely as all five vendors gear up for more MSO trials and deployments this year.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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