Cable-Tec Expo: Cisco Locks CCAP in 'Whisper Suite'

Orlando -- Cisco Systems was giving select visitors a glimpse of its Converged Cable Access Platform device behind closed doors in a “whisper suite” here at the show. (I saw a top Cablevision exec heading in to check it out.)

But for now Cisco is not divulging any public details of the thing except the name: the cBR-8, which stands for “Converged Broadband Router.”

The cBR-8 will show up in the 2014 timeframe, said Mark Palazzo, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Access Network business unit, and it will be a fully integrated CMTS with universal edge QAMs with massive capacity.

Until then, Cisco’s uBR 10K cable-modem termination system has lots of legs left, Palazzo claimed.

In Q1, Cisco plans to release a 72 downstream channel 3-Gig SPA (service port adapter) line card. Eight of those can fit into the uBR, doubling the downstream capacity available to 1,152 channels (combined with the 3G60 72-channel line cards).

"Every time we've done an analysis, by far the first thing that comes out is 'more downstream,'" Palazzo said.

On the QAM side, the DS384 universal edge QAM eight-port line card for Cisco’s RF Gateway 10 edge QAM platform provides 48 narrowcast QAMs per port that can support a mix of DOCSIS 3.0, switched digital video and VOD services. That provides up to 3,840 narrowcast downstream QAMs in a 14-rack-unit chassis (see Cisco To Roll Out First CCAP Building Block).

Palazzo said his competitors are touting CCAP devices that don’t really deliver on the spec -- they’re either highly dense edge QAMs or high-capacity CMTSs. Vendors introducing CCAP-ready products here included Arris, Harmonic and CommScope.

“As I look at the landscape, I’m surprised that they’re labeling these devices CCAP,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palazzo is skeptical about the aggressive timeline for DOCSIS 3.1. CableLabs is projecting to publish the spec next year with products to arrive in 2014. Silicon vendors will likely take 18 to 24 months after the spec is published to release 3.1 chips, he pointed out, meaning equipment probably would not be available before 2015.

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