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DOCSIS

New SMC Gear Is Docsis 3.0 Ready

SMC Networks Inc. has introduced two stand-alone modems and a home networking gateway based on a new CableLabs platform that aims to push Internet speeds beyond 100 Mbit/s. (See SMC Unveils Docsis 3.0 Gear.)

SMC says the two modems -- euphoniously dubbed the SMCD3CM and the SMCD3BCM -- are undergoing certification testing at CableLabs and should be available by late May. SMC considers the SMCD3BCM a "business-class" modem, as it also features a Gigabit Ethernet port.

The cable gateway, the SMCD3G, is in the final stages of development, but samples should be available to cable operators by next month. Among features, that model, also targeted to commercial service customers, will support static IP, firewall, NAT, and remote management capabilities.

Although many of the larger Docsis 3.0 suppliers tend to focus on the residential sector, SMC said it will instead continue to seek direct deals with cable operators in support of their small and mid-sized business service initiatives.

"SMC has traditionally stayed out of retail," says chief technology officer Greg Fisher.

Although Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RG; Toronto: RCI) of Canada uses SMC's Docsis-based home networking gear, about 80 percent of the vendor's Docsis business comes from enterprise customers.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is SMC's biggest customer for Docsis commercial gateways. Others SMC cable MSO customers include Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Bright House Networks , and Charter Communications Inc. . SMC also has a hunting license with the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) , a buying cooperative that represents more than 1,100 independent cable operators.

SMC was not among the top five shippers of Docsis modems in 2007, according to a recent report from Heavy Reading. (See Docsis Device Shipments Top 30M in 2007.) However, the top modem suppliers tend to focus on the residential market for home-side Docsis equipment.

But there aren't many 3.0 deployments to speak of yet, particularly in the U.S. where Comcast recently launched a 3.0-based "Wideband Tier" in Minneapolis and St. Paul, using Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) equipment. Comcast's 50 Mbit/s (downstream) service for business customers is priced at $199.95 per month. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era .)

"I think they [cable operators] will make a big push once they get their Docsis 3.0 networks up and running," Fisher says.

SMC has not released pricing on its business-focused Docsis 3.0 product family, but operators can expect to pay 15 to 20 percent more versus residential modems because the products use more memory and require more sophisticated software.

SCM also plans to develop Docsis 3.0 EMTAs, which integrate support for Internet connectivity as well as VOIP services. Initially, SMC will focus on a two-port version for the residential market, but "the biggest push" in the third and fourth quarters will center on a four-port model, Fisher says. SMC also has a 12-port gateway model on the roadmap, expected out by the first or second quarter of 2009, which will compete with Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS).

Fisher confirmed that SMC is using Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN)'s Puma 5 silicon in all its Docsis 3.0 gear, noting that TI gives his company the flexibility to develop its own code for cable business services. (See TI Chips In.) Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) has not announced a chipset for the full Docsis 3.0 platform, but it's believed that the company could have product ready for shipments by the fourth quarter of 2008. (See Betting on Broadcom .)

SMC is the first modem vendor to confirm that it's seeking Docsis certification in Wave 58. Other modem makers said to be in the current wave include Arris, Cisco, and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), with all models based on TI's 3.0 chipset. Motorola has already stated that its flagship cable modem termination system (CMTS), the BSR 64000, is seeking "Bronze" qualification. (See Motorola CMTS Going for the Bronze .) Results from that Wave should be known by mid-May.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




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