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Moto Takes Long View on Cable Access

Motorola Mobility LLC 's much-anticipated Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) product is on course for demonstrations, testing and lab events sometime in 2012, according to Jeffrey Walker, director of data video infrastructure marketing at Motorola Mobility's infrastructure division.

That doesn't mean its current line of cable access gear is ready for retirement just yet -- there's plenty of life left in the current CMTS and edge QAM product lines, claims the vendor. However, with the next-generation platform featuring on the wish lists of major MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), all the buzz and attention is going to be around the new CCAP product, which has yet to be unveiled.



CCAP is the new name for a super-dense platform that will combine all of cable's services (QAM video, video-on-demand, and Docsis traffic) on one platform and help set the stage for cable's all-IP migration. Comcast and TW Cable had been heading up separate but similar projects, but recently resolved the technical differences and combined them under a new specification that's now under the auspices of CableLabs . (See CMAP & CESAR Get the Urge to Converge.)

Walker confirmed that Motorola is developing an integrated version of CCAP that will combine the platform's access shelf and packet shelf. The market for a modular CCAP is in a holding pattern as routing vendors such as Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) decide whether to develop a separate packet shelf for the architecture. (See Juniper Still Not in Love With CMAP and AlcaLu Undecided on Cable Gear Opportunity.)

Walker says Motorola has a dedicated team on the CCAP project -- "it's a major development project for us," he notes. But he wouldn't comment on speculation that the company is working with a startup called Benu Networks LLC on the CCAP product's chassis.

Joining Motorola in the early CCAP market will be Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) (possibly) and Casa Systems Inc. , none of which have yet revealed their respective CCAP product roadmaps.

But it'll be a long-term play for all CCAP vendors. "My feeling is there will be a lot of trial activities [for CCAP] in 2012 … and continue through 2013," as operators test out how well QAM video traffic can mingle with Docsis traffic, Walker says.

He doesn't expect any meaningful deployments until late 2013 or early 2014 for operators in North America, with international MSOs starting to make major moves with CCAP in 2014 and 2015.

He says the inflection point for CCAP-like densities won't be apparent until operators start to bond more than eight downstream connections per service group. "The magic number is somewhere between eight and 16," Walker adds.

Technology aside, he says CCAP and its all-IP aspirations will cause cable to combine the operations of their video and data teams, which historically have worked separately -- and that could take a while.

The pre-CCAP scene
In the meantime, Motorola believes its pre-CCAP gear should be able to handle the slack until cable's ready to pull the trigger on deployments. It's got a denser edge QAM in the works that will succeed the Apex 1500, and continues to sell dedicated upstream and downstream blades for its flagship cable modem termination system (CMTS), the BSR64000.

Those cards currently pack in 32 downstream and 48 upstream ports, respectively, and Moto could try to increase those densities to help extend a bridge to CCAP or help smaller MSOs that need the capacity but may never deploy CCAP. "Stay tuned, that's all I can say," says Walker when asked about Moto's CMTS roadmap. (See New Moto CMTS Blade Paddles Upstream and Moto Decouples CMTS Downstream.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:52:50 PM
re: Moto Takes Long View on Cable Access

I'm sure MSOs are glad there will be a few vendors battling it out over CCAP, but I still wonder how much of an opportunity this will give to the vendors themselves, particularly if port costs continue to go down.  Also, I'd be surprised if the CCAP era does much to alter the current landscape on CMTS marketshare, which has been largely fixed as Cisco, Arris, Moto, and in that order.  JB

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:52:41 PM
re: Moto Takes Long View on Cable Access

CCAP (which had been known as CMAP and CESAR and...oh never mind) provides a new opportunity for suppliers and it's a stepping stone to all-IP service delvery. But, as you suggest, the economics are tough for suppliers, which is why the big guys appear to be working on how to transition gracefully in order to avoid undermining their CMTS and edge QAM sales. Heavy Reading Cable Insider provided a run-down of the would-be and wanna-be players in an earlier report.       

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