1-Gig Cable Gateway Gets Ready for Its Close-Up
Hitron Technologies Inc. plans to submit its gateway to CableLabs for certification testing in wave 96, says Todd Babic, the company's chief sales and marketing officer. According to CableLabs, products for wave 96 are due on Nov. 8, with results expected by late February 2013.
The gateway is based on the Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) Puma 6 chip that can bond 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels -- enough to support respective speed bursts of 960 Mbit/s and 320 Mbit/s. The Puma 6 also supports a 16x4 configuration. (See Intel's New Docsis 3.0 Chip Guns for 1-Gig .)
Looking further ahead, Hitron is considering submitting a similar Docsis 3.0 gateway with additional PacketCable VoIP capabilities in wave 98, which is slated to get under way in late February or early March. Hitron's initial batch of gateways based on the Intel chip will support 802.11n, following with faster 802.11ac implementations early next year.
Hitron introduced a standalone 24x8 D3 modem at The Cable Show in May and has more than 100 of them out for evaluation by "most major operators," Babic says. But Hitron opted not to certify that product because its strategy is more focused on Docsis 3.0 gateway devices.
While obtaining certification would give Hitron the OK to sell its new gateway product at retail, the vendor's strategy is to sell directly to MSOs. Even without the retail angle, certification remains an important interoperability hurdle vendors must pass before cable operators will consider products for further testing and eventual purchases. Boiled down, certification "is a license to hunt," Babic says.
But it's unlikely that many cable operators have the channels available or the desire to offer a broadband tier that would fully load a 24x8 modem right away. Hitron believes operators will go for consistency instead, adding channels to the bonding group to stabilize aggregate speeds going for existing tiers, rather than shooting for 1Gbit/s bursts.
Several U.S. MSOs offer D3 tiers that advertise downstream speeds in the range of 50Mbit/s to 100Mbit/s. The extreme case is Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which introduced a new tier that maxes out at 305Mbit/s downstream and 65Mbit/s upstream. (See Comcast Revs Up Pricey 305-Meg Tier.)
And deployments of 24x8 modems from Hitron and others will hinge on the readiness of cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), which will need software upgrades to accommodate the latest channel-bonding configurations. Hitron has been demonstrating its new modems and gateways on CMTSs from Casa Systems Inc.
All major CMTS vendors say they are ready now or will be by the middle of 2013 to support broadband modems gateways outfitted with Intel's new chips. Details about their plans to support the latest generation of D3 customer premises equipment (CPE) will be covered in a future story.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable