Cable modem/CMTS

Moto Softens Up Before CCAP

9:00 AM -- ATLANTA -- SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2011 -- The initial wave of Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) products aren't expected to reach the market until sometime next year, but for those looking for alternatives there's no shortage of cable modem termination system (CMTS) and edge QAM vendors packing extra capacity onto their existing wares.

The latest supplier to boost its existing products is Motorola Mobility LLC , which is doubling the capacity of its TX32, a dedicated downstream blade for its flagship CMTS, the BSR64000. (See Moto Decouples CMTS Downstream.)

Here at the show, Moto is touting TXPlus, a software upgrade that boosts the capacity of those blades to 64 downstreams, the equivalent of 384 downstream channels in a fully-packed chassis. Moto says it will offer the upgrade option in 2012.

That idea follows in the footsteps of other CMTS vendors, including Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), which is taking a similar upgrade path for the blades in its C4 CMTS. While MSOs like expanding the capacity of their existing gear, this upgrade strategy does tend to dampen product margins for the vendors. (See Arris CMTS Blades Go Field-Upgradable and CMTS Upgrades Soften Arris Sales .)

But MSOs will need that boost as they start to dedicate more than four downstreams per serving group, says Jeff Walker, Moto's director of CMTS marketing. "They'll need to double that over the next year based on their bandwidth demands," he says.

Okay, but what about CCAP? When will operators need that super-dense device to become available and help MSOs make the move toward an all-IP world? Walker estimates that "CCAP becomes attractive" when operators are required to dedicate at least 16 downstreams per serving group.

With a 50-60 percent increase in downstream demands each year, that probably means many MSOs still have two years before they will need to deploy CCAP equipment. But that doesn't necessarily mean they'll wait that long to get started with the emerging technology.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), a CCAP champion, expects to see start some small-scale deployments sometime next year, and it's already laying the operational groundwork for that. We'll have an update on Comcast's CCAP activities a bit later in the week.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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