Moto Bonds With Korea

Although 2008 will mark the first rollout of Docsis 3.0-based services in the U.S., most of the deployment activity happening now tends to involve cable MSOs in Asia and Europe.

The latest example: Two South Korean operators -- C&M and CJ CableNet -- have teamed up with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) to produce a 100-Mbit/s cable modem service based on downstream channel bonding, a key feature of the emerging Docsis 3.0 platform.

Under a deal set to be announced this morning, those MSOs have started deploying a faster platform based on Motorola's flagship cable modem termination system (CMTS), the BSR 64000, and a version of the vendor's SURFboard modem capable of tapping a logically wider, channel-bonded pipe.

Motorola notes that the BSR 64000 is compatible with the TX32, a module introduced earlier this year that decouples, but beefs up, the downstream capabilities of the CMTS chassis. While older BSR 64000 CMTSs use blades with eight upstream and two downstream ports, the TX32 can support up to 32 downstreams in the same slot space. Development of the TX32 can be traced to Motorola's acquisition of upconverter specialist Broadband Innovations Inc. in January 2006. (See Moto Buys RF Tech.)

"Without them [Broadband Innovations], we wouldn’t be able to get 32 downstreams per card," says Mike Cookish, director of product management for the access network solution business of Motorola's Home and Network Mobility business (and Guinness World Record candidate for longest business title).

J&W Koh, CTO of C&M, said in a statement that Motorola's platform will let the company make hardware investments as it migrates to a "full Docsis 3.0 environment."

Questions have emerged about Motorola's Docsis 3.0 strategy and its commitment to the platform, however. The company did submit a cable modem to CableLabs for the recently completed Certification Wave 56, but it stayed on the sidelines when it came to the CMTS, allowing Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and a startup called Casa Systems Inc. to earn the first Docsis 3.0 qualification stamps. (See Cisco, Arris & Casa Make the CableLabs Grade.)

"I think you'll see us appear at CableLabs soon," Cookish says of Motorola's 3.0 CMTS, but he wouldn’t say whether the company plans to submit the BSR 64000 for Wave 57, which gets underway next month.

We're on the edge of our seats.

In the meantime, Cookish estimates that 15 operators around the world are involved in some form of channel bonding testing with Motorola, with fewer than 10 of that group doing it live on the plant with paying customers. Other than the two Korean MSOs announced today, StarHub of Singapore, which is also migrating to Docsis 3.0, is the only other wideband deployment customer announced by Motorola. (See StarHub Offers 100-Mbit/s.)

"We're finalizing some contracts right now," Cookish insists.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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