Vendors Ride First Docsis 3.0 Wave

At least five vendors have submitted a total of six products to CableLabs for Certification Wave 56, the first testing group to include certification and qualification for Docsis 3.0, the spec that could provide access speeds of 100 Mbit/s.

But how many worms these early birds will catch hinges on how aggressively cable operators test and deploy Docsis 3.0 in 2008. (See CableLabs Preps for Docsis 3.0 Tests .)

Multiple sources familiar with the situation tell Cable Digital News that three vendors -– Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS); Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT); and Scientific Atlanta , now part of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) -– have supplied Docsis 3.0-based cable modems.

Table 1: Wave 56: Modem Entrants
 Vendor    Product Model    Silicon Supplier  
Arris Not disclosed; likely a new model
from its Touchstone product line
Texas Instruments
Motorola SB6120 (confirmed in September) Texas Instruments
Scientific Atlanta DPC3000, to be introduced at CES 2008 Texas Instruments
Source: The companies and Cable Digital News research

In cable modem termination systems (CMTS), Casa Systems Inc. and Cisco tell Cable Digital News they have entered, and sources say Arris has as well. Table 2: Wave 56: CMTS Entrants
 Vendor    Product Model    Qualification Level  
Arris C4 CMTS Bronze
Casa Systems C2200 CMTS Full
Cisco uBR 10012 CMTS Bronze
Source: The companies and Cable Digital News research

Modems: TI inside

Although CableLabs declined to comment on Wave 56, it's believed that every modem submitted for 3.0 testing is powered by silicon from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), which began to talk up its Docsis 3.0 chipset, the Puma 5, in May at The Cable Show. In early October, TI confirmed its participation in Wave 56 but did not divulge any customer names. (See TI Chips In and TI Chips In for Faster Cable Modems.)

This means the current wave lacks any models powered by chips from Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) or Conexant Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CNXT). Representatives from those chipmakers were not available to comment.

CMTS testing: Where's Motorola?

One key name missing on the CMTS side is Motorola, maker of the BSR64000.

Earlier this year, the company said it expected to submit that product for "Bronze" testing, referring to a tiered Docsis 3.0 CMTS test program CableLabs introduced in April. "Bronze" supports downstream channel bonding and IPv6, "Silver" is expected to add upstream channel bonding, and "Full" is, well, self-explanatory. (See CableLabs Accelerates Docsis 3.0 Testing and Go for the Bronze! .)

Is Motorola behind on Docsis 3.0, then? The company declined to provide any CMTS-specific comments, but it has gained some pre-3.0 traction with operators such as StarHub of Singapore, which markets a tier called "MaxOnline Ultimate" that caps the shared downstream at 100 Mbit/s.

Less surprising was the absence of BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) and its Cuda CMTS, considering the product's being terminated. (See BigBand Terminates CMTS.)

Casa Systems and Cisco both confirmed their Wave 56 CMTS entries. Andover, Mass.-based Casa (see profile) appears to be the only company here shooting for Full certification.

Cisco confirmed it's only going for the Bronze. A company spokesman notes that all CMTS vendors will have to resubmit for "Silver" and/or "Full" later on, citing a Bronze-level sunset clause that expires in 2009. Cisco says it will submit its gear for full qualification after that.

While Cisco's Bronze submission will not test for upstream channel bonding, the company recently demonstrated that capability at a CableLabs interoperability demo. (See Cisco, TI Paddle Upstream .)

Arris did not comment about its CMTS activities in the current wave, but sources say the vendor submitted the C4 for Bronze-level testing.

So, that's the first wave of Docsis 3.0 candidates. Being first might not be that much of an advantage, though.

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