No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet

CableLabs just awarded a trio of Docsis 2.0 certifications in Wave 56, but we're still a week away from knowing whether Christmas will come early for at least five vendors vying to become the first to win coveted Docsis 3.0 approvals.

According to a certification/qualification update posted on the CableLabs site, three vendors, so far, have come away with certifications in Wave 56.

  • Maspro Denkoh Corp. of Japan won Docsis 2.0 certification for an embedded cable modem.
  • Scientific Atlanta obtained Docsis 2.0 certification for the DPC2160 cable modem.
  • Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) obtained PacketCable 1.5 and Docsis 2.0 certification for the DHG536 embedded multimedia terminal adapter.

That's swell, but Wave 56 is more interesting for including the first tests for Docsis 3.0 modems and cable modem termination systems (CMTSs). The new spec supports IPv6 addressing, IP multicast, and channel bonding techniques that will push shared Internet speeds beyond 100 Mbit/s. (See CableLabs Preps for Docsis 3.0 Tests .)

Sources say at least five suppliers are in for Docsis 3.0 testing: Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Casa Systems Inc. , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and SA, with Casa being the only CMTS vendor seeking "Full" Docsis 3.0 qualification. (See Vendors Ride First Docsis 3.0 Wave .)

Although Docsis 2.0 certifications for Wave 56 have been handed out, the Docsis certification board has requested more time for the more complex Docsis 3.0 portion, according to a CableLabs spokesman. The spokesman did not say when the board will conduct its final review of 3.0 test results. But an SA spokeswoman said CableLabs recently informed vendors that it expects all results from Wave 56 to be released by close of business on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Operators can offer faster services based on Docsis 3.0 techniques before products are qualified or certified. But having product stamped by CableLabs in Wave 56 could help spur final product releases as MSOs tee up deployment and trial activity for 2008. Among operators, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) recently said it expects to have a Docsis 3.0 infrastructure in place for one-in-five homes by the end of next year. (See Comcast Closes In on 100 Mbit/s.)

Coming out of Wave 56 with a passing grade for Docsis 3.0 the first time through would be quite an accomplishment for the vendors, though, considering what happened with Docsis 1.0 and Docsis 1.1.

CableLabs did not approve any equipment for 1.0 until March 1999 and the conclusion of Certification Wave 7. In late 2000, Wave 16 was the first to test products based on Docsis 1.1, a spec that added quality of service to the mix. Products based on Docsis 1.1, however, did not pass until September 2001 and the conclusion of Wave 19.

That gap closed by the time CableLabs began tests for Docsis 2.0 with Certification Wave 24, which kicked off in late 2002. That wave concluded with 2.0 approvals for modems from Motorola, Scientific Atlanta, Terayon Communication Systems, Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), and Xrosstech Inc. Terayon (now part of Motorola) also came through that wave with the first Docsis 2.0-qualified CMTS.

Vendors in Wave 56 aren't there just to kick the tires and see how well they stack up against the new specs. Getting tested is anything but cheap.

According to CableLabs pricing data, the certification fee for Docsis 3.0 modem testing runs $87,500, compared to $70,000 for Docsis 2.0 modem testing. The fee for Docsis 3.0 CMTS testing is $155,000, versus $135,000 for Docsis 2.0.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Kreskin 12/5/2012 | 2:57:29 PM
re: No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet
DOCSIS is a waste of time and money. It is up there with DSL, T1 IAD and copper bonding.

Fiber capacity and capability will destroy it.
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 2:57:28 PM
re: No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet What, no can & string on your list? Sure, if you believe 32.6 million U.S. cable high-speed Internet subs qualifies as a waste...the vast majority of those folks are fed by Docsis. I realize you're looking at the future potential here, but I don't think the cable industry is going to pull back now on 3.0 and pull fiber to the home everywhere.
infinityandbeyond 12/5/2012 | 2:57:27 PM
re: No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet I wouldn't say DOCSIS is a waste of money. Maybe the certification process is.

To a certain extent, the vendor is going to pass the cost to the consumer and operator. At the same time, regardless, the operator themselves will do their own set of qualification and test.

The certification process only test a very specific hw rev and sw build. Which might not be the actual hw/sw deployed in field. Sometime, the sw version used is a special engineering build for certification process.

DOCSIS is a good idea. Certification is simply too expensive and might eventually loose it relevence.
oalfageme 12/5/2012 | 2:57:26 PM
re: No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet Keep in mind that the certification process also contributes to solve interoperability issues between CMTS and cablemodems and now, in M-CMTS architectures, among different vendors in the different interfaces: DTI, DEPI, ... Additionaly, not every cable operator is able to run so comprehensive tests like, for instance, Comcast does, so certification process also provides some guarantees of interoperability to smaller cable operators.
Kreskin 12/5/2012 | 2:57:25 PM
re: No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet
Fiber will go to the more wealthy segments first. To say 36 million is misleading.

A carrier wants high volume, high value customers. Anyone desiring to stay on DSL or DOCSIS is scraps in the long run.

Yes, fiber will not be built to a customer whereby you can't make money or margins are thin.

Welcome to competition.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 2:57:21 PM
re: No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet infinityandbeyond writes:
I wouldn't say DOCSIS is a waste of money. Maybe the certification process is.

In my opinion, full-blown DOCSIS 3.0 is a waste of money. The original proposal to have a DOCSIS 2.0B where vendors could recycle existing silicon and, in software, add IPv6 and downstream channel bonding made complete sense to me. A DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem is going to be significantly more expensive than a 2.0 modem. The silicon development is costly. The vendor software development is costly. The certification process is costly. The angst of actually making it work in a live network is costly. For what? If you need upstream channel bonding, you are no longer in the residential space and you'll be connecting with a piece of glass and a flashlight, not a piece of COAX. The last thing you want in residential is a big upstream pipe to give your media-stealing BitTorrent users an even greater chunk of your access network bandwidth. Spectrum is very scarse. A big pipe for residential is nonsense. The gains you get from statistical multiplexing a larger user pool among a group of bonded upstreams probably doesn't buy you much compared to the expense. With Dynamic Channel Change, you can already move cable modems around to better distribute your real time voice traffic. It's a wonderful jobs program in Louisville and it sucks piles of cash out of the vendors for test fees but I suspect the MSOs will still keep deploying DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems forever for cost reasons and insist the vendors give them DOCSIS 2.0B functionality for free. There will be some 3.0 deployed but no vendor will ever recoup all that NRE.
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