Modems, CMTSs Break Docsis 3.0 Barrier

CableLabs on Friday awarded the coveted Docsis 3.0 stamp to three cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) and six cable modems, marking the first consumer-side gear ever to be certified for the new spec, following Wave 58. (See Docsis 3.0 Gear Launched.)

On the modem front, CableLabs certified models from Ambit Broadband , Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), SMC Networks Inc. , and two modems from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). They mark the first modems to be awarded certification for Docsis 3.0, a platform that employs IPv6 capabilities and uses channel bonding techniques to produce shared Internet burst speeds of at least 160 Mbit/s downstream, and 120 Mbit/s in the upstream.

All of the 3.0-certified modems (we're checking for model details now) are believed to be powered by Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN)'s Puma 5 silicon platform. TI rival Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) is expected to intro its Docsis 3.0 modem chipset later this year. (See Betting on Broadcom .)

In another first, CableLabs also awarded "Full" Docsis 3.0 qualification to two CMTSs from Casa Systems Inc. Motorola, meanwhile, came away with "Bronze" qualification for its flagship CMTS, the BSR64000. Arris and Cisco won Bronze-level Docsis 3.0 qualification late last year. Casa had previously obtained Silver-level qualification. (See Cisco, Arris & Casa Make the CableLabs Grade.)

In an effort to spur Docsis 3.0 CMTS development, CableLabs introduced a "tiered" CMTS qualification system last April. Generally speaking, Bronze-level qualification covers downstream channel bonding and IPv6, Silver adds in upstream channel bonding and the Advanced Encryption System (AES), and Full, as you might expect, covers the entire spec. (See CableLabs Accelerates Docsis 3.0 Testing .)

It's believed that the tiered CMTS testing plan will sunset early next year. Cable modems must support the Full Docsis 3.0 spec in order to receive certification.

The big breakthroughs came after vendors opted not to submit gear to CableLabs for Docsis 3.0 testing in Wave 57. (See Docsis 3.0 Testing Skips a Beat .) The certifications and qualifications will give vendors and operators something to shout about at The Cable Show in New Orleans later this month.

The approvals are also coming at a good time for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which, among U.S.-based MSOs, is rolling out Docsis 3.0 the most aggressively. Comcast recently launched a 50 Mbit/s Docsis 3.0 product in the Twin Cities, and expects to wire up to 20 percent of its plant for the new platform by year-end. The operator has indicated it will have Docsis 3.0 deployed across the board by mid-2010. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era and Controlling Doc$is 3.0 .)

North of the border, Vidéotron Telecom Ltd. has started a 3.0 rollout as well, offering 30 Mbit/s and 50 Mbit/s (downstream) modem tiers. (See Videotron Hits the Gas .) Several other MSOs have indicated they will begin to test the new platform later this year. (See Charter Hints at Docsis 3.0 .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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