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Arris Launches DOCSIS 3.1 Modems

Complementing its work on the network, Arris has launched two cable modem models – one for direct distribution to cable operators and one for retail sale -- based on DOCSIS 3.1, the cable industry’s multi-gigabit platform for HFC networks.

Arris said the MSO-focused model, the Touchstone CM8200, can support up to 5 Gbps downstream and up to 2 Gbps upstream, enabled through switchable filters supporting a widened upstream of up to 204 MHz, and 1.2 GHz in the downstream. Today, most North American DOCSIS plant uses an upstream of 5 MHz to 42 MHz, but D3.1 envisions a wider upstream path by supporting "mid-splits" that would raise the ceiling to 85 MHz, and a "high-split" that would push it to 204 MHz.

The SURFboard SB8200 has the same technical capabilities of the CM8200, but is tagged for retail distribution.

Arris declined to comment on which silicon provider is powering its new line of D3.1 CPE gear. Broadcom, Intel and STMicroelectronics are among those that are developing D3.1 modem chipsets. Several other modem makers showed off D3.1-based models at a recent interop at CableLabs, including Askey, Castlenet, Cisco Systems, Humax, Netgear, Pace (which is merging with Arris), Sagemcom,Technicolor (which is buying Cisco's set-top and CPE business), and Ubee Interactive. 

The first wave of DOCSIS 3.1 modems will be hybrids that can support both DOCSIS 3.0- and new DOCSIS 3.1 traffic, which will use blocks of OFDM-based subcarriers. On the DOCSIS 3.0 side, Arris’s new line will support the bonding of up to 32 downstream QAM channels and 8 upstream channels.

Arris (booth 551) said both models will be on display at this week’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans, and will become available in 2016. Arris is also working on expanded line of D3.1 CPE that will include telephony modems and voice and data gateways.

Arris did not announce pricing on the first two models, but initial DOCSIS 3.1 deployments are expected to get underway next year and ramp up in 2017. CableLabs recently opened the door to D3.1 certification and qualification testing. D3.1 modems are expected to cost between 30% to 50% more than D3.0 modems in the early going, and then drop from there as volumes increase, according to industry sources.

Arris’s is also starting to bake D3.1 capabilities into the E6000, its flagship converged cable access platform (CCAP), a high-density chassis that combines the functions of the cable modem termination system and edge QAM.

In a recent interview, Arris director of product management Steve Krapp said the E6000 is software-upgradable to D3.1 in the downstream direction, adding that the vendor plans to introduce a new line card in 2016 that will support a D3.1-based upstream.

At the show, Arris said it plans to show both D3.1 and D3.1 traffic running on the E6000 on a single Downstream Cable Access Module (DCAM) via multiple D3.1 modems, including the new SURFboard SB8200 as well as D3.0 gateways, including the SURFboard SB6800.

At Expo, Arris said it will support Intel, VeEX and Viavi with their respective D3.1 demos, which will all run on the E6000.