Broadcom Shrugs Off Docsis 3.0

When it comes to preparing for cable's expected migration to Docsis 3.0, chipmaker Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) is doing a nice impression of a Chicago Cubs fan: Wait 'til next year.

Before you send us a nastygram, know that we do realize the Cubbies are in first place of the National League Central. [Ed note: For now.]

But back to the cable game…

Broadcom continues to see strong demand for Docsis 2.0 gear and appears to believe it's not quite time for Docsis 3.0, a spec that uses channel bonding to produce shared speeds exceeding 100 Mbit/s.

"I think Docsis 3.0 is going to be more a next-year event," Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor said Tuesday, responding to an analyst's question during the company's second quarter earnings call. "Next year, we'll see Docsis 3.0. We think Docsis 2.0 still has a fair amount of legs on it."

There's some self-interest in that prediction, as Broadcom has yet to introduce a modem chipset conforming with the full 3.0 specs. And McGregor acknowledged that CableLabs is starting to certify Docsis 3.0 modems -- nine of them, when Cable Digital News last checked. That's a mix of standalone and voice-enabled modems.

For now, Broadcom seems to be conceding that market to Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), maker of the Puma 5 chipset.

But Broadcom isn't being completely left out of the Wideband market. It's enjoyed some early success with so-called pre-Docsis 3.0 modems that bond together multiple Docsis 2.0 channels. That's happening with cable MSOs outside the U.S., particularly Hanaro Telecom Inc. of South Korea. (See Betting on Broadcom .)

Besides, the going is still good. McGregor said Broadcom's cable modem business notched record revenues in the second quarter, again driven by strong demand for Docsis 2.0 products.

Broadcom is supplying Docsis 3.0 chips for cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), the network side of the equation. Five of those models, some using Broadcom, have won some level of CableLabs qualification. (See Docsis 3.0 Gear Tracker III .)

All told, though, there's not much of a Docsis 3.0 market of which to speak yet. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), with plans to wire up 20 percent of its plant for Wideband this year, is the only U.S. operator with any immediate and significant Docsis 3.0 plans. Other MSOs are showing signs of Wideband activity, but they are being much less aggressive. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era , Britt: Docsis 3.0 Coming to NYC, Cox, Comcast Wax on Wideband , and Charter Hints at Docsis 3.0 .)

Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (J:COM) of Japan is the exception, expecting to have Docsis 3.0 rolled out in all systems by month's end. (See J:COM Does Docsis 3.0 All Over.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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