The Cable Show 2012: To Docsis 3.0 & Beyond!

About 12,000 cable guys and gals from around the globe will descend on Boston from May 21 to 23 for The Cable Show , the industry's annual confab that offers a tonic of news and discussion about content, regulations and, of course, technology.

Much of the content discussion will likely center on: cable's evolving TV Everywhere efforts, as multiscreen TV remains as much a rights/business issue as a technical one; regulatory rhetoric around the "broken" retransmission model; and the re-stoked network neutrality debate. (See Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat .)

We'll also hear lots about cable's advancing wireless/mobile strategies, whether they're about the new MSO-Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) partnership or cable's aggressive Wi-Fi buildout. (See Verizon Wireless: Cable’s New BFF, Cable Sizes Up National Wi-Fi Play and Ruckus Gets a Piece of Cable's Wi-Fi Action.)

And there's sure to be news about cable's new video products, advanced advertising and the industry's broader IP video migration -- touching on everything from hybrid gateways, dynamic ad insertion, cloud-based navigation systems and much more "open" application environments. We're hoping Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will at last shed more light on its near-term deployment plans for X1/Xcalibur -- maybe it will even take the opportunity to light up its next-gen video platform in Boston. (See Comcast's X1 to Fly First in Boston? )

But one area that's sure to heat up next week is the cable access network. Cable's been beating the Docsis 3.0 drum loudly at this show since 2007 and, for many major operators, the initial wave of deployments are now done. So expect this show to amp up the talk on what's coming next.

Here are three areas we'll be following closely.

Docsis 3.0 moves up a weight class
This year we'll get our first glance at the next generation of Docsis 3.0 cable modems that will bond eight downstream channels and four upstream channels. Expect Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) to take the lead with the formal introduction of its Puma6 family. This is expected to offer two configurations, 16x4 and 24x8, with the latter capable of about 960 Mbit/s downstream, while in EuroDocsis environments it will enable greater than 1Gbit/s downstream (due to 8MHz channel spacing rather than the 6MHz spacing used in North America). Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM)'s D3 roadmap? Cool your heels. We may not hear much about that until later this year. (See Intel's New Docsis 3.0 Chip Guns for 1-Gig .)

Beyond Docsis
Word's getting around that CableLabs is set to work on what's being labeled Docsis 3.x, a development that would include technical direction for a higher-capacity upstream path. This could provide the industry with the ability to build symmetric 1Gbit/s pipes. One way to achieve this is widen the upstream to 200MHz or more and employ frequency modulations higher than 64 QAM. Tuesday's engineering panel on "The Gigabit Network: New Possibilities in HFC" will likely offer a few more clues on where Docsis 3.x may be headed. (See Cisco Hints at What Comes After Docsis 3.0.)

Then there's the emerging Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standard called EPON Protocol Over Coax (EPoC) that's also gunning for symmetric Gigabit speeds. But can Docsis and EPoC truly live together in harmony, as the engineers claim they will? Or is this really a battle, with the winner set to determine the long-term direction for HFC? (See The Case for EPON-Over-Coax & CCAP Coexistence and Countdown's on for EPON Protocol Over Coax.)

The map to CCAP
The Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), cable's next–generation access architecture, has been a hot show topic in recent years. However, there are still no products considered to be CCAP-ready.

That will change next week. We expect to see some first-generation CCAP equipment at the show, including integrated versions that combine the cable modem termination system (CMTS) and edge QAM functions, as well as more distributed implementations that look more like a super-sized edge QAM. But who among the usual suspects will have CCAP gear that everyone can touch and feel? Will it be Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Casa Systems Inc. , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) or Motorola Mobility LLC ?

To find that out, and to track other news from Boston, be sure to visit Light Reading Cable's dedicated Cable Show site.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:32:39 PM
re: The Cable Show 2012: To Docsis 3.0 & Beyond!

Cisco wanted to clarify the comments it made regarding this notion of a Docsis 3.x project: 

“CableLabs is, as always, evaluating a variety of technologies that may be useful to increase capacity and reduce the cost of broadband equipment.  As part of this evaluation, Cisco has advocated for the creation of a new version of the DOCSIS specifications.  Cisco’s comments in its recent video webcast were not meant to imply anything more than the foregoing. We regret any confusion that we may have caused in our implying that there are any future or successive versions of CableLabs’ DOCSIS specifications currently being written.” – Cisco spokesperson.


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