CCAP in Flux

If the road to an integrated Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) is long, consider the road to a modular CCAP to be even longer.

Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), an edge QAM vendor with aspirations to develop the Access Shelf of a modular CCAP implementation, offered some thoughts on when we might expect that market to take off when it reported third quarter numbers last week. And there's no reason to hold your breath or jot anything down on the calendar. It's looking like when operators can expect to get their mitts on a bona fide modular CCAP product from anyone is in the category of guesswork.

"Our belief is that such products will only be deployed in volume ... not for several years," President and CEO Patrick Harshman said.

And it's not that Harmonic is ignoring CCAP. Harshman acknowledged that Harmonic does indeed have a CCAP development program. He's just being realistic -- the near-term opportunity for Harmonic is to build and sell super-dense edge QAMs. As a reminder, CCAP will combine the functions of the edge QAM and cable modem termination system and give MSOs the kind of density and capacity they'll need to go all-IP.

Plus, there's still no CCAP Packet Shelf for Harmonic to plug into, so why spin its wheels now? Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) -- two possible candidates for the CCAP Packet Shelf -- are smartly holding off on making any firm commitments to a market that doesn't exist yet. (See Juniper Still Not in Love With CMAP .)

And the chatter in the industry is that the modular CCAP is now a moving target. We're trying to get to the bottom of what's going on with the modular CCAP architecture, but the terms "mothballed" and "evolving" have been brought to our attention more than once. Nothing like a little uncertainty to slow down a portion of the market that is already creeping along.

Motorola Mobility LLC shed some light on what that might entail in a blog post about a "distributed" CCAP architecture that would transmit Docsis channels to an external edge QAM via an existing modular cable modem termination system (CMTS).

Not to be confused with the original, strict definition of a modular CCAP, this distributed approach has more of an evolutionary path in mind because it would let MSOs upgrade capacity with edge QAMs that could still be used in future CCAP upgrades. Or at least that's the theory that's being presented.

"A distributed deployment still paves the way for an integrated CCAP architecture, but it also provides flexibility in the migration from traditional data and video infrastructures to the new CCAP model of delivery," writes Moto Director of CMTS Product Marketing Jeffrey Walker.

And there still might be some hope for someone to develop the original vision for the modular CCAP. Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)'s proposed acquisition of BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) could steer some products in that direction. But short of that, most believe that a completely integrated, one-vendor CCAP solution will be first to reach the market, perhaps sometime in 2012. (See Arris/BigBand Could Resurrect Modular CCAP .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:49:42 PM
re: CCAP in Flux

Yeah, it would seem they may be able to pursue the same goal of using multiple vendors but under a different technical approach than what was first outlined in the modular CCAP implementation.  But it sounds like they'll be able to preserve their edge QAM capacity while making the move to ccap, which has been a worry. JB


craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:49:45 PM
re: CCAP in Flux

The modular approach always seemed like a tough way to go, so it wouldn't be surprising to see it disappear. Theoretically it allowed more suppliers to get involved, but there was a chicken-and-egg aspect to putting all the pieces together for a complete CCAP product.

I understand that suppliers want to preserve their edge QAM businesses, but if MSOs really are hellbent on moving to CCAP I doubt they're going to have much patience for adding more steps to the migratory process.      

(Explanations of the integrated and modular approaches are contained in a Heavy Reading Cable Insider  as well as Jeff's earlier Light Reading reports.) 


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:49:49 PM
re: CCAP in Flux

Hope to have more details on this soon, but we're now hearing that the original modular CCAP with the Access Shelf and Packet Shelf is no longer being actively developed and that there are a couple of other projects on the table to help the transition to the future CCAP platform.  JB






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