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Cable modem/CMTS

Moto Hones Super-Dense CMTS Blade

A cable modem termination system (CMTS) blade from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) that packs in 48 upstream ports and aims to blow per-port costs out of the water should be shipping by the "early third quarter" of 2010, according to a Moto exec.

Motorola is hopeful that the new product, dubbed the RX48 Decoupled Upstream Module, will come into play as MSOs look to beef up their single-channel upstream capacities, or eventually migrate to upstream channel bonding using Docsis 3.0 and begin to deliver shared upstream speeds of 50 Mbit/s or more.

The RX48 is made to snap into Moto's flagship CMTS, the BSR 64000. Motorola's existing upstream card offers just eight ports.

The improved density of the RX48 will support 1.5 Gbit/s of capacity and is likewise expected to drop per-port costs by as much as 60 percent, says Floyd Waggoner, director of global product marketing and communications for Motorola's Access Networks division.

That story of improved costs and port densities may ring familiar. It's exactly what has happened on the downstream side of the CMTS equation as Motorola, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) began to introduce denser downstream cards about two years ago. Among this group, Motorola markets a CMTS blade, the TX32, that contains 32 dedicated downstream ports and that it considers to be the "sister" card to the RX48. (See CMTS Downstream Prices Plummet.)

Since then, MSOs have been using those cards to add capacity to their existing cable modem tiers or to apply them to new downstream-heavy Docsis 3.0 services.

And Motorola obviously wants to achieve similar results with its upstream blades, hoping it will help the vendor slice away at the CMTS market share lead established by Arris and Cisco. Those vendors are also developing new upstream CMTS cards, but neither has publicly announced port densities that can rival what Moto's RX48 will start with. (See Arris Snares CMTS Crown From Cisco , Moto Wields Upstream CMTS Blade, and Moto Downloads Docsis Plans .)

Update: A modular-CMTS card Cisco has under development will pack 60 upstream ports.

Moto's Waggoner notes that Motorola's acquisition of San Diego-based RF specialist Broadband Technologies (BI) in 2006 has been key to helping the company generate such CMTS port densities.

Motorola is hopeful that its new upstream blade will resonate with MSOs around the globe, but it believes not all of those operators intend to use the RX48 for upstream channel bonding right away.

Some MSOs in Asia, where marketed speeds of 100 Mbit/s are more commonplace, may use these denser cards to go for upstream channel bonding rather rapidly (as they did when the new downstream cards came out). However, Waggoner believes it's more likely that other operators will wield the new cards to add capacity to their non-bonded upstreams.

In those cases, the MSOs may deploy multiple single channels of upstream capacity, and then start to bond them once peak average use begins to skyrocket. Of course, just the "marketing level battle" in terms of offered speeds (as opposed to the kind of capacity customers might actually require) may also spur adoption of upstream channel bonding by MSOs, Waggoner adds.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.


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