Cable modem/CMTS

D3 Revs Up for Retail

2:30 PM -- The small retail market for Docsis 3.0-powered modems and home gateways may start to heat up now that there are at least two vendors that will be mixing it up.

Zoom Telephonics , as expected, entered the D3 retail fray today by announcing it has started high-volume shipments of a modem that's tagged for the shelves of Best Buy, Micro Center, and Staples. (See Zoom D3 Modem Goes Retail.)

A Zoom model (5341) that can bond four downstream channels and four upstream channels got retail clearance in March following certification from CableLabs . Zoom says it begged off taking the device retail until after it received certifications from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. It already had the technical go-ahead in Charter Communications Inc. markets.

Zoom isn't saying how much the modem, which uses Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) silicon, will sell for, but the company told Light Reading Cable earlier this year that the device would likely go for less than $100 per unit. Today's announcement indicates that Zoom's D3 retail plan is ahead of schedule. Earlier this year, it indicated that shipments would begin by late August. (See Zoom Grooms D3 Modem for Retail.)

Zoom will be battling at retail with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), which started off by selling its SB6120 SURFboard D3 modem (another 4x4 model) for $99.97, though frugal consumers can buy it for almost $15 less if they poke around for deals.

Motorola has since started selling the SBG6580 D3 gateway at Best Buy. That fancier device, which includes built-in 802.11n, a GigE four-port switch, and a firewall, sells for $149.99. A Moto official confirmed earlier that it also supports a beefy, eight-channel downstream, evidently a first for a D3 device that's tagged for retail.

The vast majority of cable high-speed subs lease modems from MSOs, but the few that take the retail route pay a premium upfront, but try to get a return by avoiding monthly lease fees.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:31:08 PM
re: D3 Revs Up for Retail

Looks like Zoom kept its promise to keep this model under $100 per unit at retail.  Best Buy has it listed for $89.99.   Moto's comparable stand-alone 8x4 modem, meanwhile, is listed for $10 more.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:31:00 PM
re: D3 Revs Up for Retail

Thanks, i got my numbers mixed up. The 5341 is indeed the D3 model in question, which I've fixed in the story.  And, yes, I did already mention that the Moto SB6120 is 4x4, but the newer gateway does indeed use the 8x4 config. Keep a close eye on the D3 gateway market... it's going to ramp up quick starting later this year and start to hit decent volume levels next year.  Still a market for stand-alone and emta D3 models, but from what i'm hearing more and more MSOs are eager to use integrated gateways as a baseline D3 product.  More on that soon. JB

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iansltx 12/5/2012 | 4:31:00 PM
re: D3 Revs Up for Retail

Actually, it's the Zoom 5341 (spotted the discrepancy because I actually own a Zoom 5241...and it's definitely not a DOCSIS 3 modem!). Seems like a decent enough modem.


Also, the Motorola SB6120, the $100 BestBuy modem, is a 4x4 based system, not 8x4 (that's only for the $150 wireless gateway + modem combo).

iansltx 12/5/2012 | 4:30:59 PM
re: D3 Revs Up for Retail

Coll. Was looking at your comment and there seemed to be room for confusion there.

At any rate, I'm sure many MSOs want to copy DSL/fiber providers by handing out wireless routers that are integral to the modems themselves...Time Warner Cable is already doing this with SMC kit on their Wideband rollouts. Comcast is currently taking a two-box approach; users renting a modem can pick up a wireless router at no additional charge, with the router features determined by which speed tier they're using. Lower, non-D3 tiers get 802.11g routers, 22/5 gets a midrange 802.11n model and 50/10, if I remember correctly, gets a gigabit router with dual-band 802.11n from Netgear.

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