Vendors Ride First Docsis 3.0 Wave

Five suppliers have submitted a total of six products for Docsis 3.0 testing, Cable Digital News has learned

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

November 21, 2007

5 Min Read
Vendors Ride First Docsis 3.0 Wave

At least five vendors have submitted a total of six products to CableLabs for Certification Wave 56, the first testing group to include certification and qualification for Docsis 3.0, the spec that could provide access speeds of 100 Mbit/s.

But how many worms these early birds will catch hinges on how aggressively cable operators test and deploy Docsis 3.0 in 2008. (See CableLabs Preps for Docsis 3.0 Tests .)

Multiple sources familiar with the situation tell Cable Digital News that three vendors -– Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS); Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT); and Scientific Atlanta , now part of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) -– have supplied Docsis 3.0-based cable modems.

Table 1: Wave 56: Modem Entrants

 Vendor  

 Product Model  

 Silicon Supplier  

Arris

Not disclosed; likely a new model from its Touchstone product line

Texas Instruments

Motorola

SB6120 (confirmed in September)

Texas Instruments

Scientific Atlanta

DPC3000, to be introduced at CES 2008

Texas Instruments





In cable modem termination systems (CMTS), Casa Systems Inc. and Cisco tell Cable Digital News they have entered, and sources say Arris has as well.Table 2: Wave 56: CMTS Entrants

 Vendor  

 Product Model  

 Qualification Level  

Arris

C4 CMTS

Bronze

Casa Systems

C2200 CMTS

Full

Cisco

uBR 10012 CMTS

Bronze





Modems: TI inside

Although CableLabs declined to comment on Wave 56, it's believed that every modem submitted for 3.0 testing is powered by silicon from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), which began to talk up its Docsis 3.0 chipset, the Puma 5, in May at The Cable Show. In early October, TI confirmed its participation in Wave 56 but did not divulge any customer names. (See TI Chips In and TI Chips In for Faster Cable Modems.)

This means the current wave lacks any models powered by chips from Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) or Conexant Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CNXT). Representatives from those chipmakers were not available to comment.

CMTS testing: Where's Motorola?

One key name missing on the CMTS side is Motorola, maker of the BSR64000.

Earlier this year, the company said it expected to submit that product for "Bronze" testing, referring to a tiered Docsis 3.0 CMTS test program CableLabs introduced in April. "Bronze" supports downstream channel bonding and IPv6, "Silver" is expected to add upstream channel bonding, and "Full" is, well, self-explanatory. (See CableLabs Accelerates Docsis 3.0 Testing and Go for the Bronze! .)

Is Motorola behind on Docsis 3.0, then? The company declined to provide any CMTS-specific comments, but it has gained some pre-3.0 traction with operators such as StarHub of Singapore, which markets a tier called "MaxOnline Ultimate" that caps the shared downstream at 100 Mbit/s.

Less surprising was the absence of BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) and its Cuda CMTS, considering the product's being terminated. (See BigBand Terminates CMTS.)

Casa Systems and Cisco both confirmed their Wave 56 CMTS entries. Andover, Mass.-based Casa (see profile) appears to be the only company here shooting for Full certification.

Cisco confirmed it's only going for the Bronze. A company spokesman notes that all CMTS vendors will have to resubmit for "Silver" and/or "Full" later on, citing a Bronze-level sunset clause that expires in 2009. Cisco says it will submit its gear for full qualification after that.

While Cisco's Bronze submission will not test for upstream channel bonding, the company recently demonstrated that capability at a CableLabs interoperability demo. (See Cisco, TI Paddle Upstream .)

Arris did not comment about its CMTS activities in the current wave, but sources say the vendor submitted the C4 for Bronze-level testing.

So, that's the first wave of Docsis 3.0 candidates. Being first might not be that much of an advantage, though.

To Page 2

Window of opportunity?

Some MSOs are still noodling the business side of the equation, exploring how the costs of Docsis 3.0 stack up against current 2.0 technologies and how quickly they might get a return on that investment. The cost difference will narrow quickly if operators step up with high volume commitments right away.

The other scenario could see those prices start out high and then drop like a rock after MSOs ramp up deployments, says Patti Reali, an analyst with Gartner Inc.

But competition, rather than pricing concerns, could spur deployment plans. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for example, just introduced a high-end (15 Mbit/s or 20 Mbit/s, depending on the market) symmetrical service with upstream speeds that, in the telco's marketing language, "blow cable away." (See VZ Increases FiOS Upload Speeds.)

"Cable's got to be ready with a [comparable] product that's not going to break the bank," Reali says. One good piece of news for cable operators is that CMTS prices are dropping dramatically, she says.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is already testing Docsis 3.0 and expects to roll it out to a "substantive" portion of its footprint next year. (See Comcast Ready to Reclaim Bandwidth.)

Mediacom Communications Corp. , another top 10 U.S. cable operator, appears content to see what larger operators do before it makes any significant decisions on Docsis 3.0. (See Mediacom Takes 'Back Seat' on Docsis 3.0 .

According to a schedule posted by CableLabs, products for Wave 57 are due by Jan. 9, with results expected by mid-March.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News



Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to The Future of Cable Business Services, a conference that will explore the swiftly expanding U.S. business services market. To be staged in New York City, December 6, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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