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Packet Bonding Picked for Wideband in DOCSIS 3.0

CableLabs has made a key technical decision on the implementation of wideband within the forthcoming DOCSIS 3.0 specification. Specifically, a 'packet bonding' implementation was selected over a competing 'MPEG bonding' proposal. The former had been most aggressively championed by Motorola and the latter by Cisco Systems. Wideband offers the ability to deliver data at hundreds of megabits per second over DOCSIS cable modem networks. Cable operators are keen on the technology as a means to compete with emerging fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) solutions under development by telcos, as well as deliver high-bandwidth business services. In addition to wideband, major enhancements expected to emerge in DOCSIS 3.0 include IPv6 support as well as modular cable modem termination system (M-CTMS) specifications. The M-CMTS approach enables DOCSIS MAC and IP switching/routing functions to be separated from downstream QAM modulation and RF upconversion, as well as upstream QPSK/QAM demodulation. This way, high-density edge QAM solutions can be shared for video-on-demand (VOD) and DOCSIS data services, driving down infrastructure costs. Optimizing wideband for future M-CMTS architectures was a key driver for the packet bonding technology selection. Additionally, equipment suppliers say Broadcom, the top supplier of DOCSIS cable modem and CMTS silicon, will be able to deliver chips with packet bonding support a half-year sooner than for an MPEG bonding solution. The bad news for all DOCSIS silicon vendors, of course, is that implementing DOCSIS 3.0 will require new chip spins for both cable modems and CMTSs. Look for details in the next issue of Cable Digital News.
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