Long Live DOCSIS 2.0

With all the focus on DOCSIS 3.0 and the coming DOCSIS 3.1 platform these days, DOCSIS 2.0 seems as lost and forgotten as a 56K dial-up modem.

There are still gobs of single-channel DOCSIS 2.0 modems in the field, but D2.0 modems represent a shrinking fraction of gear that is still coming off the line. The last time we spent much time talking about 2.0 technology, Terayon Communication Systems was still preaching the gospel of S-CDMA.

But DOCSIS 2.0 apparently still has some new uses -- particularly in emerging markets such as Latin America, South America, India and China.

Or so says Broadcom, which this week introduced a design that that matches its stand-alone BCM3308 DOCSIS 2.0 chip to the BCM7584 digital cable set-top system-on-chip.  That concoction, Broadcom said, creates a “next-generation” HD DOCSIS 2.0 solution for low-cost set-top boxes.

It might be the first time older-generation technology is being labeled in something that is likewise being labeled as a next-generation product, but okay. I’m feeling nostalgic today.

But to be fair, there is some new stuff in there too. It does use Broadcom’s Full-Band Capture, which lets MSOs grab spectrum from anywhere on the band up to 1GHz and perform remote diagnostics. And it does feature an IP video server, a 3D graphics engine that can support HTML5-based user interfaces, and FastRTV, a Broadcom-developed technique that allows for fast channel changes and is already included in simple, one-way Digital Transport Adapters based on company’s silicon. And there’s an eSATA interface in case an operator wants to tether the box to a storage device/DVR sidecar.

So, being low-cost and having these new bells and whistles could present an attractive mixture to MSOs in these emerging for cable TV operators that are locking horns with satellite and IPTV video providers in these markets.

Broadcom said it has shipped more than 150 million DOCSIS 2.0 chipsets to date, so this new opportunity will give the vendor to expand that total and extend the life of 2.0 tech.