Light Reading

Docsis 4.0

Jeff Baumgartner
The Bauminator
Jeff Baumgartner
1/3/2008
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OK, let's be clear on one thing from the get-to. There's no such thing as Docsis 4.0... at least not yet. And probably not for a long, long time.

But who's to stop a big vendor like, say Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), from at least proposing some Docsis 4.0ish ideas? Well, nobody, apparently.

That was one of the things that caught my attention as my eyes flitted about the schedule for this month's Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Conference on Emerging Technologies, set to run from Jan. 14-16 in Los Angeles.

I was intrigued that on tap is a discussion about a paper titled: A Proposal for Docsis 4.0: The Best of Both Worlds -- Docsis and PON. Alon Bernstein, a software architect at Cisco, is listed as the presenter.

Of course, we'll apply the benefit of the doubt here and consider that a vendor's proposal for something dubbed Docsis 4.0 is just tongue in cheek. After all, just throwing around a term like Docsis 4.0 is sure to attract some attention. At least it got mine for a split second.

Docsis 3.0, as we already know, is just getting off the ground, and CableLabs just awarded its first set of qualifications to cable modem termination systems based on the new specs. So believing the industry is anywhere near even discussing anything formal about a new Docsis spec is pure fantasy. (See Cisco, Arris & Casa Make the CableLabs Grade.)

And the idea of introducing PON to the cable environment isn't exactly new. Several vendors, Cisco and its Scientific Atlanta unit included, have already been pitching the idea of using "cable PON" schemes, particularly in limited areas and situations that call for MSOs to pull fiber all the way to the customer premises. (See Moto Expands 'CablePON' Strategy, CommScope Sees BrightPath for Cable FTTP, SA Pitches Cable PON, RFOG Update , and Sifting Through the RFOG.)

Although it's all in good fun, Cisco might want to tread carefully when throwing terms like Docsis 4.0 about. Recall the legal spanking Terayon Communications (now part of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)) got a bit more than seven years ago for claiming its S-CDMA technology would be part of an erroneous spec called Docsis 1.2. S-CDMA was later included in Docsis 2.0, but investors weren't exactly forgiving about the whole exercise.

Then again, Cisco's just proposing an idea, and its use of the term should be taken in that context. Then again (again), Cisco isn't a small fry like Terayon was back in the day. It can do this sort of thing and probably get away with it without too much screaming and hand-wringing.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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