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Huawei Looks Beyond Docsis

Jeff Baumgartner
6/4/2012
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If Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is to have much (any?) success getting its gear deployed on U.S. cable networks, don't expect it to come by way of cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) or equipment tailored to meet the industry's new Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP). (See Comcast Issues CCAP RFP .)

Huawei flirted with the idea of developing CCAP products early on, but has since decided to let the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Casa Systems Inc. fight over that market. It will instead focus on developing EPON equipment that can be slotted into cable networks to serve businesses, and later, residential customers. (See Casa Puts Heat on Cisco, Arris & Motorola and CCAP Market Is Cisco's & Arris's to Lose .)

"We're looking beyond Docsis to meet the future needs of the industry," Frank Miller, the chief technology officer for Huawei's MSO CTO Office, told Light Reading Cable at The Cable Show in Boston. (See Meet Huawei's New Cable Guy.)

While Docsis equipment isn't expected to play much of a part in Huawei's U.S. cable strategy, elements of Docsis will still factor into what the vendor has in store for domestic cable operators, at least in the near-term. Initially, Huawei will focus on EPON gear that uses Docsis-style provisioning -- a product category that U.S. cable operators are already starting to deploy to serve business customers. CableLabs already has a second-generation Docsis Provisioning of EPON (DPoE) specification in the works. (See Docsis Gets Its EPON On and Cable Preps for EPON Tests.)

Further out, Huawei intends to develop equipment for EPON Protocol Over Coax (EPoC), an emerging Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standard that will deliver PON-like performance on hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant and, if it works as advertised, further delay cable from having to push fiber all the way to the premises. (See Countdown's on for EPON Protocol Over Coax.)

"Docsis carries you only so far," Miller said.

That may be true for today's Docsis technology, but CMTS vendors are urging CableLabs and the rest of the cable industry to start work on a next-generation version of Docsis that would rival the performance targets of EPoC while also maintaining backwards compatibility with today's Docsis equipment. (See The Case for EPON-Over-Coax & CCAP Coexistence and Does Docsis Have a 10-Gig Future? )

While those projects would appear to put Docsis and EPoC vendors at odds and possibly set up a techno-religious war about which direction the cable industry should head next on the access network, it's clear now where Huawei is placing its bet.

But the Docsis vs. EPoC debate isn't the only area of concern that Huawei will have to confront as it chases after the U.S. cable market. It's also got some sizable trust issues to overcome, not just with domestic cable operators, but with the U.S. government too. (See US Gets Worried About Huawei .)

And that's an issue that Ron Pitcock, the recently appointed VP and GM of Huawei's MSO business organization, attempted to address at show in this LRTV interview:



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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