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Cloud Native/NFV

Cable DAA activity perks up

SCTE/ISBE CABLE-TEC EXPO – The COVID-19 pandemic caused operators to slow some of their distributed access architecture (DAA) deployment activities, but a wave of announcements this week indicates this work isn't at a complete standstill.

CommScope, for example, said it has won a piece of Comcast's DAA business. Meanwhile, Technetix and Vecima are getting more aggressive in the market via a new product and business partnership focused on DAA. Both announcements were timed to coincide with this week's SCTE/ISBE virtual Cable-Tec Expo.

On the CommScope end, the supplier said it has been picked by Comcast for a DAA "transformation" that will utilize its E6000r remote PHY shelf, with an eye toward a virtualization of the cable operator's headend operations.

Tagged for deployment in hub sites, CommScope's remote PHY shelf, which supports up to eight remote PHY devices (RPDs), will help Comcast push RF electronics further out into the network as part of a broader DAA effort. CommScope recently introduced a new remote access device for cable's hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks that can be used in either remote PHY architectures or remote MACPHY architectures, which distribute both the RF piece and the software/MAC processing.

CommScope didn't say how much revenue its role in Comcast's DAA action will bring in the door. Comcast is also hooked up with Harmonic on its ongoing rollout of a virtual converged cable access platform (CCAP) and has deployed other Harmonic products, including remote PHY nodes, for a trial in Jacksonville, Florida, that is delivering symmetrical speeds of 1.25 Gbit/s over HFC.

DAA the focus of Technetix-Vecima connection

Meanwhile, Technetix and Vecima have teamed up to pursue the emerging cable DAA market with a partnership that combines Technetix's modular DBx platform (which can serve as a node or amplifier, for example, depending on what kind of modules are snapped into it) with Vecima's remote PHY devices.

Paul Broadhurst, Technetix's founder and CEO, said the agreement enables his company to target the full CCAP market landscape because Vecima's compact RPDs are compatible with CCAP cores from CommScope, Cisco, Casa Systems and even Harmonic.

"We're in deployment in labs working with all four [cores] today," confirmed Clay McCreery, Vecima's chief operating officer.

Vecima is also in the node business, but is likewise agnostic in providing RPD modules that can fit inside the products of other node vendors, McCreery added.

Broadhurst said the partnership with Vecima also includes a joint sales arrangement.

He said integrations and trials of the DBx/Vecima combo, which produces a low-powered DAA remote PHY unit, are underway with two yet-to-be-named customers (Liberty Global is one of Technetix's investors, by the way).

Broadhurst expects to be able to offer a platform with remote MACPHY capabilities sometime next year. Vecima has remote MACPHY technology in-house thanks to its recent acquisiton of Nokia's cable access business, which includes remote MACPHY products pioneered by a startup called Gainspeed.

"We think MACPHY will be the technology that will take over in the next three years," Broadhurst predicted. "That tipping point is happening now."

McCreery noted that new modules from Vecima will also support remote MACPHY as the vendor shifts to a new-generation chipset from Broadcom.

Although remote PHY has been the focus of initial DAA deployments, momentum around remote MACPHY appears to be building. CableLabs, for example, recently released an initial set of specs for the new Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA). FMA will enable operators to deploy the MAC where they see fit as they explore full network virtualization, but the first phase of FMA is focused on remote MACPHY.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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