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Comcast has started a handful of 'pilot' deployments, while TW Cable and Bright House prepare to field test cable's next-gen access platform later this year

Major Cable Players Rally Around CCAP

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/20/2013
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DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen IP Strategies: Entering the Zettabyte Era -- Three major U.S. cable operators -- Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks -- plan to deploy or at least start trials this year on a new, super-dense cable architecture that will help converge all their services and forge a path toward IP video. That architecture, called the Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), will eventually combine the functions of the edge QAM and the cable modem termination system (CMTS) while aiming for a 50 percent space and 60 percent power saving while supporting about four times the capacity of current gear. Following an operational readiness trial, Comcast is entering a "deployment pilot" phase where it will install the equipment, test it out, and then keep it there for a future, bona fide deployment, said Comcast VP of Access Architecture Jorge Salinger. Comcast has pilots underway in "more than a handful of markets" across all of the MSO's divisions. "We're starting to deploy the [CCAP] playbook." (See What Comcast Learned From Trying Out CCAP.) He said deployments will begin in the second half of 2013, and he expects most MSOs to have deployments underway by 2014. Salinger shared more detail on Comcast's plans for CCAP, and which apps and services will drive the need for it early on, in the video interview below:

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Bright House will begin CCAP deployments by the third quarter of 2013, said company Senior Director of Network Strategy and Architecture John Dickenson. He said an in-house study on an all-IP migration revealed that a cable system might have to support 7 Gbit/s of capacity for every 400 homes passed. CCAP can provide that kind of port density, but that transformation could take more than ten years, he predicted. Time Warner Cable has plans to start CCAP trials this year, said Chief Architect Tom Gonder, but he didn't commit to any specifics. "We're evaluating a few CCAP platforms," he said. "We're bullish on … CCAP. We want to deploy it as quickly and widely as possible." He said a challenge on the horizon is the issue of product qualification and getting operations prepared for the platform. The vendors are getting ready, too. Cisco Systems Inc., for example, has historically used separate parts of the company to test Docsis and video traffic. "So we've had to converge those to test that [CCAP] platform," said John Horrobin, marketing manager for Cisco's Cable Access Business Unit. "We're going through that learning process as well." As for CCAP products, CommScope Inc. is developing gear to address both mid- and large-sized systems using common blades. "It's hard to find a one-size-fits-all," said Shane Eleniak, CommScope's VP of advanced broadband solutions. The market will likely accept "a couple of flavors of CCAP," said Gerry White, the chief architect of networks infrastructure for Motorola Mobility LLC's Home unit. Motorola is working on a fully integrated CCAP as well as a non-routing version that will end up looking like a giant edge QAM. (See Sizing Up The CCAP Players.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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