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Cisco's Open Source Moves Not All Altruistic

Remote PHY is good for Cisco's CCAP business, so why not use open source to give the technology a boost?

Mari Silbey

February 10, 2016

2 Min Read
Cisco's Open Source Moves Not All Altruistic

Cisco announced today that it's open sourcing software for Remote PHY devices and making the project -- dubbed OpenRPD -- available to operators and vendors worldwide.

Sounds good, right? Sure. But it also sounds like a not-so-subtle attempt by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to maintain its iron grip on the cable CMTS/CCAP business. (See Cisco Open Sources Remote PHY Device.)

Cable operators are considering multiple strategies for distributed access architectures (DAA), including the Remote PHY approach that Cisco is promoting. While Remote PHY pushes the RF functions in a CCAP chassis out to the network node level, it keeps the MAC layer intact in the headend. That means there's still a lot that has to happen in the CCAP chassis, and it gives operators a reason to buy more Cisco CCAP gear. (See also Fueling the Distributed CCAP Debate and Cable's Great Debate: How to Split Functions.)

Want to learn more about Remote PHY and other distributed access approaches? Then sign up now for Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies, taking place at the Cable Center in Denver on Thursday, March 10.

If operators instead decide to remote both the MAC and PHY layers as they move toward more virtualized networks, then the CCAP chassis essentially goes away in favor of commoditized hardware and software controls. Cisco agrees this will happen eventually, but it's undoubtedly happy to extend that eventuality as far out as possible, while earning a little open source credit along the way.

I'll be looking for further perspective on cable distributed access architectures in the near future. Stay tuned.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Mari Silbey

Senior Editor, Cable/Video

Mari Silbey is a senior editor covering broadband infrastructure, video delivery, smart cities and all things cable. Previously, she worked independently for nearly a decade, contributing to trade publications, authoring custom research reports and consulting for a variety of corporate and association clients. Among her storied (and sometimes dubious) achievements, Mari launched the corporate blog for Motorola's Home division way back in 2007, ran a content development program for Limelight Networks and did her best to entertain the video nerd masses as a long-time columnist for the media blog Zatz Not Funny. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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