Apparently beating other cable equipment suppliers to the punch, Hitron Technologies claims that it has become the first equipment maker to deploy a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that supports gigabit speeds.
Hitron Technologies Inc. announced Monday that it has signed deployment deals with two US cable operators -- Suddenlink Communications and General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) -- for its new CDA3-35 cable modem. Leveraging 32x8 channel-bonding, the new cable modem can enable downstream speeds as high as 1.2 Gbit/s in North America, the highest speed yet for modems.
A major though relatively unknown modem maker that ships more than 3 million DOCSIS units around the world annually, Hitron is referring to its new device as the cable industry's "first gigabit cable modem." The company says that both Suddenlink and GCI, which are both now launching gigabit speeds in their first markets, will use the modems for their 1-Gig rollouts. (See Suddenlink Goes Full Blast.)
The new Hitron modem is relying on Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s Puma 6-MG DOCSIS processor and MaxLinear Corp. 's 32-channel MXL268 tuner, which are drop-in and software-compatible upgrades to those companies' prior 16-channel and 24-channel solutions. Sensing MSO demand for gigabit speeds even before the next-gen cable broadband spec DOCSIS 3.1 can be deployed, Intel and MaxLinear have been developing their 32-channel solutions since at least last winter.
It's not yet clear how many other cable operators may start deploying the 32-channel modems as they seek to match the gigabit speeds now being introduced by such major telcos and fiber players as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and Google Fiber Inc. With the first DOCSIS 3.1 devices now being tested, and Cablelabs about to start certifying those devices, many, if not most, MSOs may decide to hold off and wait for D3.1 gear to become available so they can offer multi-gigabit speeds, even though that equipment will cost more, at least initially.
But what is clear is that the cable demand for deploying 1-Gig speeds and higher is strong and growing. In a recent survey of cable providers across the globe, for example, IHS Inc. found that, on average, providers expect to pass about a third of their residential broadband subscribers with DOCSIS 3.1-enabled headends by April 2017. In the US alone, that would translate to more than 17 million cable modem homes passed by D3.1, which is designed to support data downstream speeds as high as 10 Gbit/s and upstream speeds of 1 Gbit/s or more. (See DOCSIS 3.1 Seen Taking Off.)
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading