Will E-MTAs Reign Supreme?

Due to the rampant popularity of voice over IP (VOIP), cable operators have been installing more and more combined cable data/voice modems in broadband homes. As a result, vendor shipments of these voice modems – technically known as embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs) – have been rising steadily over the last few years, accounting for nearly all of the growth in the overall cable modem market.

In 2007, for instance, cable voice modems accounted for a record 46.4 percent of all 33.7 million Docsis devices shipped worldwide, according to the latest Heavy Reading estimates. That's up from a 41.5 percent share in 2006 and a 29.4 percent share in 2005.

Given this growing trend, could E-MTA shipments eclipse cable data modem shipments for the first time this year? It certainly seems possible. In the U.S., MSOs added more than 1 million VOIP customers in the second quarter of 2008 – the seventh consecutive quarter of 1 million-plus subscriber gains. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) alone picked up a whopping 555,000 VOIP subscribers during the spring months.

Not surprisingly, then, Heavy Reading predicts that E-MTA shipments could match or pass data modem shipments this year as cable operators extend VOIP service to new markets as well as push VOIP deeper into their existing markets. In our new "Cable Next-Gen Technology Quarterly Market Tracker," we project that voice modem shipments, which climbed past the 15 million-unit mark last year, should clear 17 million units this year and hit 20 million by 2012.

But that doesn't mean that E-MTAs will leave ordinary cable data modems totally in the dust. As we also predict in the new quarterly tracker, data modem shipments should keep rising over the next few years too, thanks to the rollout of the new Docsis 3.0 spec. With MSOs in North America, Europe, and Asia all gearing up to introduce Docsis 3.0 service now, we believe that data modem shipments, which topped 17 million units last year, will go as high as 18.5 million by 2010 and then flatten out at that level.

Overall, we forecast that global Docsis device shipments, which surged well past 30 million units in 2007, should scale 35 million units this year. We then see the total steadily rising beyond 40 million units in 2011 as other Docsis-powered devices, such as wireless gateways and digital set-top boxes, begin to gain a foothold in the market.

— Alan Breznick, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

For more information, or a FREE PREVIEW of the "Cable Next-Gen Technology Quarterly Market Tracker," please contact:

    Lee Salem
    Sales Director – Custom Research, Heavy Reading
    [email protected]

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