Don't Give Up on Converged Cable Access Yet
DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen Technologies -- Not that long ago there was a joke going around the cable industry that the first "C" in CCAP stood not for "converged" but "cheap;" as in Cheap Cable Access Platform. Why? Because the early CCAP implementations were all about offering an extremely dense DOCSIS chassis, and not about marrying data and video in a single piece of hardware.
That trend may finally be changing.
A full year after it was revealed that Casa Systems Inc. had deployed the first integrated CCAP chassis in a Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) system, several companies have now gone on the record to say that the integrated CCAP business is picking up. (See TWC Delivers First QAM Video Over CCAP.)
First, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s CTO of the company's cable business John Chapman revealed in an interview that integrated CCAP deployments are happening, albeit slowly. Then Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) CEO Bob Stanzione referenced integrated CCAP deployments in that company's earnings call last month, suggesting the technology is an opportunity for near-term Arris revenue growth. And a short time later, Casa executive Jeff Leung shared the news that his company is also moving forward with more integrated CCAP activity.
"It is coming," said Leung of integrated CCAP deployments. "I'm 100% sure it is coming."
Importantly, however, there was no confirmation from any service providers on further plans to deploy the converged platform. Until now.
At Light Reading's Cable Next-Gen Technologies conference, Cox Communications Inc. Executive Director of Network Strategy Jeff Finkelstein stated clearly, "We are working very hard to get CCAP, integrated CCAP deployed as rapidly as we can in the areas of our greatest demand."
That statement comes as something of a surprise because much of the cable industry discussion of late has focused on the move toward distributed access architectures (DAA) rather than converged platforms. The promise of a distributed architecture is that it pushes much of the cable-specific technology deeper into the cable network, thereby letting operators standardize more heavily on Ethernet. However, moving to a distributed architecture is a big change, and -- more clearly now -- it's not one that's going to come at the expense of a new iteration of cable chassis that combines data and video in one device that still sits in the cable hub.
Speaking on a panel at the Light Reading conference, participants generally agreed that both integrated CCAP and DAA deployments will happen. Gainspeed VP Samir Parikh even staked a claim saying he thinks the industry "will see deployments of DAA this year," right alongside those integrated CCAP rollouts Finkelstein referenced.
Arris CTO of Network Solutions Tom Cloonan put a finer point on it saying, "To be fair, DAA is going to get out there and [those solutions are] going to sell... but I don't think anybody's CCAPs are going to go away like that. I think they're going to be around for a long time."
In other words, this is no either/or proposition. Cable operators will converge and distribute their platforms in different places depending on specific market needs.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading