Cable modem/CMTS

Arris CMTS Packs On Upstream Muscle

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) is extending the life of its flagship cable modem termination system (CMTS) and keeping competitors like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) in sight with a new blade that doubles the device's upstream density.

Its new Cable Access Module (CAM), which snaps into the Arris C4 CMTS, packs in 24 downstream ports, versus the 12 ports supported by its existing blade. Arris confirmed that the card supports S-CDMA, a technology being championed by Motorola Mobility LLC that enables CMTSs and modems to support upstream capacity in the nether regions of the HFC plant (down to 5MHz), where it's so noisy that some channels are rendered unusable. S-CDMA cleans that up. (See Moto Preaches Cable's Upstream Savior .)

At the higher end, the CAM is also capable of using spectrum as high as 85MHz -- an important feature as MSOs consider "mid-splits" that expand the upstream path into portions of the spectrum that operators have historically used for cable downstream services. (See CableLabs Eyes a Super-Sized Upstream .)

The upstream card is the complement to Arris's recently introduced XD CAM, which supports up to 32 downstream ports. Arris will be showing off its new wares next week at The Cable Show in Chicago.

Why this matters
Arris is currently second in CMTS market share, so it's incentivized to match up with Cisco's dense 3G60 blade and beef up the capacity of its legacy platform before MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) start to test and deploy Converged Multiservice Access Platform (CMAP) products that combine CMTS and edge QAM functions.

Nearer-term, the new blade will factor in as cable operators add capacity to boost the efficiency of single-channel Docsis upstream tiers and begin to pave the way for channel-bonded Docsis 3.0 upstream paths that can support bursts of 100Mbit/s or more.

Comcast, Arris's largest customer, has already deemed upstream channel bonding "production-ready" by the end of the first quarter of 2011. Bright House Networks recently revealed to Light Reading Cable that it turned up upstream channel bonding in Orlando, Fla., in the fourth quarter of 2010, and switched it on in Tampa in January 2011.

For more
Read more about the CMTS market and Docsis 3.0's upstream evolution.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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