Cable-Tec Expo: Cisco To Crank Up Edge QAM Capacity

Cisco Systems early in 2012 plans to release new line cards for its RF Gateway 10 universal edge QAM platform that will increase its capacity roughly eightfold -- to deliver nearly 4,000 downstream narrowcast QAMs and support more than 3,000 broadcast video streams in one chassis.

The high-capacity QAM cards, coupled with the Cisco uBR10000 cable modem termination system, will deliver specs close to what the industry has defined with the Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), said Mark Palazzo, VP and general manager of the Cisco Access Network Business Unit.

"The goal is to not compel customers to go to CCAP until it's economically viable," Palazzo said. "We have a platform with a lot of mileage left in it."

The 384-QAM line cards (up from 48 per line card currently) will be able to deliver services across the full spectrum, and will provide the flexibility to place QAMs in any frequency band (rather than requiring them to be contiguous), Palazzo said.

The line cards will enter lab trials with customers in the last week of November, and Cisco is shooting to ship it toward the end of the first quarter of 2012.

In a second phase of Cisco's CCAP road map, the company is developing a processing engine for the uBR10000 that will increase its backhaul capacity from 10 Gigabits per second to 40 Gbps.

The third and final phase will be a fully CCAP-compliant device that integrates edge QAMs and CMTS functions in the same device. That will be a 30-rack-unit-high chassis that will have 80 Gbps of backhaul capacity and provide three times the total capacity available with the uBR10000 and RF Gateway 10 combo. Eventually the box could scale up to 200 or 400 Gbps backhaul, Palazzo said.

Cisco's CCAP product will be "a couple of years out," Palazzo said. The company has modeled the bandwidth needs of customers and expects them to hit the capacity limitations of the current uBR10k and RF Gateway 10 platforms no sooner than 2016.