MSOs, CableLabs Seek Docsis 3.0 Kit
LR Cable News Analysis Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading 12/8/2006
CableLabs and its counterpart, Cable Europe Labs , have issued a joint request for information (RFI) seeking to find equipment that would comply with the industry's new Docsis 3.0 technical standard. Acting on behalf of more than 30 of their MSO members, the two R&D groups sent out the request early last month, although the announcement only became public yesterday afternoon.
The RFI asks cable and telecom equipment manufacturers for information on any Docsis 3.0 cable modems, cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), and PacketCable embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs) they might be developing. It also asks about any other products that vendors might be developing to meet the latest Docsis spec, which is designed to greatly boost both cable broadband bandwidth and modem speeds through a process called "channel-bonding."
The RFI tells equipment makers to send technical data on the planned products to CableLabs, while pricing information goes straight to the sponsoring cable companies themselves. The deadline for vendor responses is Dec. 11.
So far, a record-high 32 MSOs, including at least 13 U.S. and four Canadian cable operators, are participating in the RFI. The lineup includes all of the biggest North American MSOs, as well as many of European ones.
"There is a lot of interest in it, both from our members and EuroCableLabs members," notes Michelle Kuska, VP of broadband access for CableLabs. "It is a rather large group."
CableLabs officials declined to say much more about the RFI. Unlike some similar RFIs or RFPs in the past, the organization did not make the actual document itself public.
The transatlantic move comes about three months after CableLabs, accused by some critics of dragging its feet on Docsis 3.0, finally issued the next-gen spec after more than two years of work. The R&D group finished drafting the complicated new standard this past summer after its MSO members deflected efforts by some leading vendors to rush out an interim Docsis 2.0b spec that would have raised cable modem download speeds much sooner than Docsis 3.0, which is expected to take two or more years to implement fully.
The move also comes about two months after CableLabs staged a large closed-door meeting with equipment manufacturers in New York to stress the importance of developing Docsis 3.0 gear swiftly. At the meeting, participants say, top MSO technology executives emphasized that they need the new channel-bonding equipment to stave off competition from upgrading phone companies.
"Overall they made a strong statement that Docsis 3.0 is critically important to their business and they want us to go as fast as possible," says Roger Slyk, director of product marketing for BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) "We got that message loud and clear."
— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News