CommScope Inc. is expanding into the world of Docsis and expects to add those capabilities to its budding Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) before the end of the year.
The company intends to have an integrated CCAP, which blends the cable modem termination system (CMTS) and edge QAM functions, ready for CableLabs qualification testing by the fourth quarter of 2013 and ready for deployments by early 2014, according to Shane Eleniak, CommScope's VP of advanced broadband solutions. MSOs will be using integrated CCAPs to put all of their services on one platform while also reducing headend space and power requirements.
CommScope's early CCAPs, due to deploy during the current quarter, will be "non-routing," downstream-only versions omitting the Docsis piece; they're like super-sized edge QAMs. The CSP 640 will support up to 9,600 downstream QAMs, while the CSP 1280 will handle up to 19,200 downstream QAMs.
"Our belief is that [cable operators] will start to deploy CCAP metal as super dense edge QAMs first," and then migrate over to a platform that integrates the Docsis components, Eleniak says. "That's the low hanging fruit."
CommScope's path to CCAP is similar to that of Harmonic Inc., a competing edge QAM maker whose NSG Pro will also start as a non-routing CCAP. Harmonic has been adding Docsis expertise, and it demonstrated the NSG Pro with a with a Docsis upstream card at last fall's Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando.
Eleniak says CommScope already has some internal Docsis talent that came way of its acquisition of LiquidxStream in 2011, but notes that it's also working with another vendor that has some Docsis DNA. "It's a good-sized project," he says of CommScope's plans for a full CCAP.
CommScope declined to identify that partner, but an industry source says some help is coming way of Daphne S.A., a Belgium-based firm with Docsis 1.1 and 2.0 CMTSs in its product portfolio.
Regardless of how CommScope and Harmonic get to a fully integrated CCAP, they'll need to arrive there eventually in order to compete long-term with the likes of Cisco Systems Inc., Arris Group Inc., Casa Systems Inc. and Motorola Mobility LLC (which in the process of being bought by Arris).
Cable operators are expected to test and deploy CCAP this year. Among the major MSOs, Comcast Corp. completed a CCAP operational-readiness field trial last year ahead of some small-scale deployments expected to happen in 2013.
Comcast issued a CCAP request for proposal (RFP) last year, and several more operators in North America and in Europe have already followed suit.
"All of the large [MSOs] are looking at CCAP now," Eleniak says.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable