By Alan Breznick, editor, Cable Digital News
With U.S. and Canadian MSOs stepping up their rollouts of voice-over-IP (VoIP) service throughout North America, CableLabs placed its stamp of approval on 12 more PacketCable products last month, including five embedded multimedia terminal adapters (e-MTAs), three integrated modem, e-MTA and gateway devices, two cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), one media gateway and one policy server.
Wrapping up its eighth and last product testing round of 2005, CableLabs gave early holiday presents to numerous cable tech vendors in the first half of December. Besides the 12 PacketCable products, the industry's R&D consortium also certified three DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems and the first embedded DOCSIS cable modem module as interoperable in Certification Wave (CW) #40, raising the total number of approved devices for the testing round to 16.
The 16 approved devices represent a huge jump from the mere three tech products that CableLabs blessed at the end of its previous testing round in late October. The flurry of product approvals also comes after the consortium gave the nod to 11 VoIP devices at the close of its last voice-related certification wave in late September, as part of a grand total of 16 products then.
"It was a good wave for products," said Craig Chamberlain, vice president of systems evaluation for CableLabs. "It was probably one of our heavier end-of-the-year waves."
Motorola, Cisco-Linksys, Thomson, Terayon Communication Systems and Asustek all hit the jackpot on the e-MTA front last month, gaining certification of their latest voice modems. Terayon scored the highest by clearing the bar on four separate tech specs, earning DOCSIS 1.1, DOCSIS 2.0, PacketCable 1.0 and PacketCable 1.5 approvals of its new TJ955 voice modem. In doing so, the TJ955 model became the first e-MTA to earn PacketCable 1.5 status.
"Receiving PacketCable 1.5 certification for an e-MTA in the first test wave for that product is another significant achievement for Terayon, and enables us to provide cable operators worldwide with a compelling voice and data solution for their expanding broadband rollouts," said Terayon CEO Jerry Chase. The TJ955 supports the delivery of two primary lines of VoIP service per household, as well as high-speed Internet access.
Each of the other four vendors achieved a hat trick, earning DOCSIS 1.1, DOCSIS 2.0 and PacketCable 1.0 approvals for their e-MTAs. Motorola's SBV5221 e-MTA, Cisco-Linksys' CMP200B2 model, Thomson's DHG525 version and Asustek's ACM6149 model all cut the mustard under the three specs.
As a result of the five new product approvals, CableLabs has now certified at least 38 e-MTAs under its various PacketCable specs, as well as 34 voice modems under its DOCSIS 2.0 standard. In the testing wave that ended in late September, the consortium granted approval to an unusually high 11 e-MTAs, thanks in large part to the introduction of new silicon and software from equipment vendor supplier Broadcom Corp.
Along with the five e-MTAs, CableLabs certified its first three integrated residential gateway devices in the busy equipment testing round. The Cisco-Linksys WCGP200B2, Thomson DWG855 and Netgear CVG824G models all swept the spec approvals, qualifying under the PacketCable 1.0, DOCSIS 1.1, DOCSIS 2.0 and CableHome 1.1 standards. The multi-function devices can handle high-speed data, VoIP and home networking applications.
"Essentially, through one product, the operator can offer three different services here," said Ed Miller, vice president of advanced network systems for CableLabs. "We've been shooting for this type of integration for some time."
CableLabs also approved two CMTSs under both its PacketCable Multimedia and DOCSIS 1.1 specs. The two CMTSs, made by Cisco Systems and BigBand Networks respectively, are just the second and third CMTSs qualified by the consortium under its PacketCable Multimedia standard. Cisco's uBR7246 VXR/MC28U model and BigBand's Cuda 12000 thus join a Motorola BSR 64000 CMTS that made the grade under both the PacketCable Multimedia and DOCSIS 2.0 specs back in April.
"Designed with an eye toward addressing the unique quality-of-service issues required for delivering multimedia IP content, the PacketCable Multimedia qualification, combined with other advances such as our modular CMTS work, allows cable operators using the BigBand Cuda to provide richer, event-driven and time-sensitive services," said Ran Oz, chief technology officer of BigBand. As prime examples, he cited such services as online gaming, streaming media, video conferencing and voice services based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
CableLabs also put its PacketCable 1.0 stamp of approval on a media gateway from Siemens, just one of a handful of media gateways that have passed muster so far under the PacketCable specs. Siemens' hiG 1200 model captured the honors, joining previously approved media gateways from Nuera, Cisco, AudioCodes and General Bandwidth.
In addition, the consortium gave the green light to a PacketCable Multimedia policy server from Juniper Networks, just the sixth policy server to qualify under that standard. Juniper's SDX-S1-62300 model thus joins policy servers from C-COR, CableMatrix, Camiant, Tazz Networks and Telcordia, all of which gained approval during an equipment testing round that ended last April.
Besides the VoIP products, CableLabs cleared three more DOCSIS 2.0 modems in CW #40. Scientific-Atlanta, AM Communications and Electroline headed the list of successful DOCSIS vendors, as each equipment manufacturer earned certification of a DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem. S-A won approval of its DPC2100R2 model, AM gained certification of its Model 9360 modem and Electroline hit the jackpot with its DHT-PS-NA-02 model.
Thanks to the certification of these three data devices, CableLabs has now given the thumbs-up to roughly 70 cable modems under its popular DOCSIS 2.0 standard. As the new year gets off to a start, consortium engineers are focused on putting the finishing touches on a draft of their long-awaited, next-generation technical spec, DOCSIS 3.0, which is due out soon.
Finally, CableLabs qualified its first embedded cable modem module. ATI, a newcomer to the equipment certification process, gained approval of its Cafe 1.0 model under both the DOCSIS 1.1 and DOCSIS 2.0 standards. ATI, best known as a silicon supplier to digital TV manufacturers, entered the DOCSIS segment through its acquisition of Terayon's cable modem chip business. With its embedded DOCSIS module, ATI is aiming to enable consumer electronics manufacturers to build interactive, cable-ready products. CableLabs officials said they expect to see more cable modem module approvals as electronics manufacturers seek to boost the functionality of their devices.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Ghent, Belgium, EuroCableLabs approved six more devices for cable operator use last month, including four e-MTAs and two cable modems. In its CW #21, the EuroCableLabs (ECL) Certification Board granted Euro-DOCSIS 2.0 certification to the Arris Touchstone TM501B, Ambit E08C009 and S-A WebSTAR EPC2203 and EPC2223 voice modems. The board also awarded Euro-PacketCable certification to S-A's WebSTAR EPC2223 model.
Arris said its e-MTA is the first RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) voice modem to earn EuroDOCSIS 2.0 certification. The vendor said RoHS compliance means that the device meets or exceeds the pending European Directive for the removal of lead and other heavy metals.
Asustek's ACM6046TE cable modem and S-A's WebSTAR EPC2100R2 data modem also made the grade under the Euro-DOCSIS 2.0 spec.
Besides approving the six devices, the ELC Certification Board announced that it will begin testing Euro-PacketCable 1.5 products for certification in CW #22, which will start later this month. This new Euro-PacketCable spec includes support for such enhanced features as fax relay capabilities and advanced audio codecs.