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Cable Tech

Harmonic ready to teach old Cisco nodes some new tricks

Harmonic says it is prepared to breathe some new life into a family of widely-deployed Cisco nodes that are nearing the end of the road.

Harmonic claims to have developed an upgrade kit for the Cisco GS7000 node that can enable the device to support a range of next-generation hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) applications and capabilities, including distributed access architecture (DAA) as well as DOCSIS 4.0, a platform that will enable symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds and support low-latency applications.

According to Daniel Etman, the cable business unit marketing lead at Harmonic, the company's prefabricated upgrade kit, which contains Harmonic's own "Pebble" DAA module, can be snapped into existing Cisco GS7000 nodes without having to replace the housing or even the power supplies.

Harmonic says its 'Pebble' DAA module can be snapped into existing Cisco GS7000 nodes.  
(Image source: Harmonic. Used with permission.)
Harmonic says its "Pebble" DAA module can be snapped into existing Cisco GS7000 nodes.
(Image source: Harmonic. Used with permission.)

"There's no advanced or complicated engineering that needs to be done in order to deploy the update into the GS7000," Etman said.

Harmonic's upgrade kit, which also supports the company's implementation of the CableLabs-specified Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA) and its CableOS virtualization platform, arrives on the scene as Cisco prepares to put the GS7000 out to pasture.

Cisco announced end-of-life (EoL) plans for the GS7000 nodes back in May 2022. Under the current plan, Cisco has set an end-of-sale date of November 11, 2022, for the GS7000, and February 9, 2023, as the last ship date on the product. The last date to extend or renew a service contract for the GS7000 is February 6, 2027, and the last date to receive service and support entitled by service contracts or by warranty terms for the GS7000 is November 30, 2027.

"After this date, all support services for the product are unavailable, and the product becomes obsolete," Cisco explained. "There is no replacement available for the Cisco HFC - Cisco GS7000 Nodes at this time."

Light Reading has asked Cisco if it is developing any upgrade paths for the GS7000 on its own.

Interest from Charter

Harmonic expects its upgrade kit to enter trials with "leading operators" by the end of this month. Charter is evidently among the operators with GS7000s in the field that are eager to pursue the upgrade path with Harmonic.

"With flexible, sustainable solutions, we can rapidly upgrade our networks," Justin Colwell, EVP of connectivity technology at Charter, said in a statement. "Leveraging Harmonic's DAA-based solutions will fuel faster, more reliable internet for our customers."

GS7000 upgrades could open up a new growth path for Harmonic as cable operators pursue HFC network upgrades. Etman estimates that more than 100,000 GS7000s have been deployed, with the largest concentration of deployments in North American and South America.

"It's an interesting opportunity for us," he said.

Harmonic's upgrade path enables operators to cut operational and capital costs by retaining their GS7000s and converting them to support DAA and DOCSIS 4.0, Etman contends. He acknowledges that it's likely that other cable access suppliers will also pursue the opportunity that's arising from Cisco's decision to end-of-life its GS7000 nodes.

Cisco's decision to end-of-life the GS7000 node is another step along the company's path to effectively back away from the cable access network hardware business.

Cisco still makes and supports the cBR-8, its flagship cable modem access system (CMTS). However, Cisco, which has folded its cable access unit into its bigger mobile division, halted the sale of GainMaker amps and certain line extenders in the fall of 2020. ATX Networks essentially took over that piece of Cisco's business with a license to develop a lineup of new cable amplifiers that are compatible with Cisco's GainMaker technology.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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