Cable Tech

Cisco Bulks Up for Cable's Next Platform

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is keeping its edge QAM up to snuff with the downstream density requirements of the Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), Light Reading Cable has learned.

The company is cooking up a new line card, the DS384, to snap into the RF Gateway-10 "universal" edge QAM ("universal," because it's for cable services that use its MPEG and IP transport pipes). As the name suggests, the new card supports 384 downstream ports, a big improvement over the vendor's current-generation DS48 QAM line card.

An industry source who's familiar with Cisco's roadmap says the vendor simply skipped the line cards that would have included 96 ports and, later, 192 ports.

Cisco's not saying much about the DS384 yet. There's a brief reference to it here, but the company's expected to save most of the details for The Cable Show next month in Boston.).

But Cisco does say the card sets it up for CCAP, an emerging access platform that combines the functions of the cable modem termination system (CMTS) and edge QAM. "Our current products are CCAP-ready in almost every respect," a Cisco spokesman says in an email to Light Reading Cable.

Cisco's initial plan for an integrated CCAP will involve its flagship CMTS, the uBR10012, along with the 3G60 line card and the RF Gateway 10 outfitted with the new DS384 line cards. Those products, "are in line with both the cost and capacity goals of CCAP," the Cisco official claims. (See Cable Rethinks 'Modular' CCAP .)

It's unlikely MSOs will need all that capacity right out of the chute. So, using a model that's becoming popular among CMTS vendors, Cisco's expected to let MSOs license ports for the DS384 as they need them, says a person who's familiar with the plan. (See Arris Leaps Into CMTS Port Licensing and Cisco Pops Pay-As-You-Go CMTS Play.)

MSOs are getting ready for CCAP trials and deployments. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), for one, recently put out a request for proposal (RFP) ahead of initial small-scale deployments. (See Comcast Issues CCAP RFP .)

Some cable engineers believe that a fully functional CCAP may be years away, but Cisco's latest product decisions, which will get its port densities into the CCAP ballpark, will at least extend the life of its edge QAMs and CMTS until CCAP starts to ramp.

Cisco's competition in the CCAP market will include Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Casa Systems Inc. , CommScope Inc. , Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Motorola Mobility LLC . (See Motorola Pushes Ahead on Cable Access and CCAP: Arris's Top Priority .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

hakmuh 12/5/2012 | 5:36:53 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up for Cable's Next Platform

For 3G60, the article says 3G60 with 72 DS ports, in contrary to the EQAM (RFGW-10) based solution.

3G60 has only 3 physical ports, and needs an EQAM as well.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:36:53 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up for Cable's Next Platform

Yep, good point. We're talking about modular there, so I've altered that to reflect the continued need for the eQAM. JB

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