Cable Tech

Mediacom taps CommScope as 'primary vendor' for DAA

CommScope has secured the catbird's seat for Mediacom Communications' migration to a distributed access architecture (DAA), a precursor to a possible future leap to DOCSIS 4.0.

CommScope said it's been selected as Mediacom's "primary vendor" for the operator's migration to DAA based on remote MACPHY – an approach for distributed cable networks that deploys both the physical layer elements of the cable modem termination system (CMTS) – such as the QAM modulators and demodulators – along with the MAC (media access control) processing in optical nodes that are situated at the edges of the network.

Mediacom's move to DAA will effectively digitize the hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network down to the node, a move that will improve the overall performance of the plant. The migration to DAA is also a requirement for any future upgrades to DOCSIS 4.0, an emerging platform for HFC that will support symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds along with enhanced security and low-latency capabilities.

CommScope says the RD2322, a product introduced in 2020, can operate in remote PHY or remote MACPHY architectures.  
(Image source: CommScope)
CommScope says the RD2322, a product introduced in 2020, can operate in remote PHY or remote MACPHY architectures.
(Image source: CommScope)

Financial terms of the deal weren't announced, but Mediacom will deploy CommScope's RD2322 RxDs as remote MACPHY devices in the node and simultaneously field-upgrade CommScope optical nodes to 1.2GHz of capacity (up from today's 1GHz).

The deployment also supports a "high-split" upstream upgrade that will expand the amount of spectrum dedicated to the upstream, from a legacy range of 5MHz-42MHz to a new, broader range of 5MHz-204MHz, the companies said. That will put Mediacom in a position to deliver tiers with faster upstream speeds, perhaps up to 1 Gbit/s. Mediacom's current high-end speed tier on HFC delivers up to 1 Gbit/s downstream and up to 50 Mbit/s upstream.

The vendor pick and the focus on remote MACPHY follows a 10G Home field trial that Mediacom hosted in Ames, Iowa, in the fall of 2020 featuring CommScope's E6000 converged cable access platform core, OM6000 node and remote PHY devices. CommScope noted that the RD2322 RxD can operate as either a remote PHY device – similar to what was used in the 10G trial – or a remote MACPHY device, which will underpin Mediacom's new DAA network.

Remote MACPHY 'more suitable'

Mediacom, an operator that serves several rural US markets, said remote MACPHY is well-suited to that environment.

"We think remote MACPHY devices will be less complicated to deploy and more suitable for fiber transport distances that are commonly found in our lower density markets," a Mediacom official said via email in response to questions about the DAA technology selection. While the initial phases of Mediacom's DAA project will be completed in the coming quarters, the operator hasn't announced if or when it might pursue an upgrade to D4.0.

Mediacom's remote MACPHY approach helps to ensure that the option for DAA has legs even as some of the nation's largest cable operators head down the path of remote PHY.

Comcast, for example, has long been focused on the remote PHY option and has already deployed more than 50,000 remote PHY nodes. Charter Communications is not as far along but has opted to pursue remote PHY following a recent review of its next-gen network options, according to industry sources.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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