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Fiber access vendor also announces Grande Communications as the first cable customer for its new broadband product that enables 1-Gig download speeds.

Calix Launches DOCSIS Provisioning of GPON

Alan Breznick
7/9/2014
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Seeking to make inroads in the cable residential market, Calix is launching a new fiber access product designed to enable cable operators to deliver 1Gbit/s speeds using DOCSIS Provisioning of GPON (DPoG) technology.

Calix Networks Inc. (NYSE: CALX) also announced Tuesday that Grande Communications has become the first cable provider to deploy the new service, which relies on a mix of existing hardware and new software. Grande, a competitive cable overbuilder in Texas, is leveraging the product to deliver Gigabit speeds in West Austin, which is becoming the hub of Gigabit service in North America, with at least three rival providers.

In a pre-emptive move, Grande began rolling out its 1 Gig "Power 1000" service in West Austin in February, beating Austin market rivals Google Fiber Inc. , AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) to the punch. Both Google Fiber and AT&T plan to launch 1-Gig service in the Texas state capital later this year, while Time Warner Cable has boosted its maximum downstream speeds in the city to 300 Mbit/s. (See TWC Joins Austin Speed Sweepstakes.)

Calix's new service relies on a combination of the vendor's existing E7-2 Ethernet Services Access Platform (ESAP), and 700G family of optical network terminals (ONTs), and new Compass Open Link Cable software to provide DPoG capability. The key element here is the Open Link Cable software, which allows cable operators to provision GPON services over fiber networks using their legacy DOCSIS platforms, rather than junk DOCSIS altogether.

Calix officials say the DPoG system is "based on the concepts" behind the DOCSIS Provisioning of EPON (DPoE) specs that CableLabs developed several years ago and continues to refine. So far, cable operators have mainly used these specs, which enable the delivery of EPON service over fiber lines using DOCSIS, to offer much higher speeds to commercial customers.

Similar to what happens in the DPoE scenario, the Open Link software acts as a proxy, enabling the two Calix hardware products to virtualize the functions of the cable modem and cable modem termination system (CMTS) in the standard DOCSIS set-up. So the E7 platform essentially replaces the CMTS and the ONTs replace the cable modems.

"It works just like the DPoE system," says Dave Russell, solutions marketing director at Calix. "It creates a virtual cable modem and a virtual CMTS."

Calix executives say their DPoG solution is also aimed to align with the new DPoG specs that CableLabs is now developing for the cable industry. Although cable technologists initially favored EPON for the industry's fiber deployment, there's a new consensus that cable should pursue both PON options in the future.

Geoff Burke, senior director of corporate marketing for Calix, says the company sees great potential in DPoG for cable new-builds, upgrades, and highly competitive markets like Austin. With Google Fiber and AT&T looking to expand their Gigabit deployments to numerous other markets over the next couple of years, he is counting on more MSOs to follow Grande's example.

One early candidate for DPoG among the largest North American MSOs may well be Cox Communications Inc. . Cox, which recently announced plans to upgrade to 1-Gig service throughout its footprint, has already deployed GPON for some of its commercial customers. In another sign, Calix just signed up Chris Bowick, a former Cox CTO, as a board member.

Calix, which has previously focused on the cable commercial market for GPON, plans to highlight its new residentially oriented product at the upcoming Independent Show in Kansas City. It also plans to shows off the system at the CableLabs Summer Conference and SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in September.

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

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User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2014 | 11:45:35 AM
Converging toward a single standard
I've observed that the driving principle behind EPON was low cost and short time-to-market, emphasizing reuse of existing technology.  The driving principle behind GPON was to meet the broadest possible deployment scenarios, maximize performance and bandwidth efficiency, and fit well with telco operations practices, despite technological challenges and higher initial cost. This is the reason we have two standards that do almost the same thing.

We've reached a point on the learning curve that pricing is roughly at parity, while many of the functional differences remain.  Competition between the two standards has improved both.  And market fragmentation is a burden on the entire industry. 

It appears that the market is slowly making a decision that it could not make several years ago.  I expect EPON to be around for a long time, but also expect to see new deployments overwhelmingly selecting GPON. 

The cable industry's apparent change of direction is another brick in the wall.
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 10:17:22 PM
It's great to see more Gigabit speeds rolling out...
Announcements of these 1(+)Gbps services finally seem to be getting really competitive. But I haven't seen a 1Gbps service in my neighborhood yet!
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