Cable Show 2013: Cox, Cisco Take CCAP For a Test Run

Cox Communications and Cisco Systems have wrapped up two Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) trials, marking some of the earliest known tests of a superdense architecture that will push cable toward an all-IP future.

Mark Palazzo, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s cable access business unit, detailed the trials Monday in this blog post.

Palazzo did not disclose the location of the trials, but noted that they involved two new Cisco cable modem termination system (CMTS) modules – the 3-Gigabit Shared Port Adapter (3GSPA) and the Performance Routing Engine (PRE5) – that fit into the uBR1012, Cisco’s flagship CMTS.  The 3GSPA effectively doubles the downstreams in one CMTS chassis (from 1,152 from 576), while the PRE quadruples the CMTS’s routing functions (from 10 Gigabits per second to 40 Gbps).

In Cisco’s initial, modular approach to CCAP, it will team the uBR10012 outfitted with these new modules with the RF Gateway-10, a high-capacity edge QAM that can support a new line card, the DS-384, that provides 128 QAMs per port, or more than 10,000 QAMs per chassis, according to the vendor. That combo logically integrates cable's IP and QAM service traffic on the same platform.

Cox’s plan “is to combine our new CMTS modules and high-density DS384 line cards in the RFGW-10, so as to double downstream capacity, and to simultaneously quadruple wide area network backhaul capacity, all in the existing chassis,” Palazzo noted.

This modular set-up involving the uBR10012 “is about expanding capacity without the dreaded ‘forklift upgrade’,” Palazzo added.

It’s also a precursor to the cBR-8, Cisco’s first fully-integrated CCAP. At a press and analyst dinner here Sunday night, Cisco officials said it will be showing the device in its “whisper suite,” so don’t expect a formal announcement at this week’s show. The company has previously acknowledged that it expects to launch the cBR-8 sometime in 2014.