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Cable-Tec Expo: CommScope Tips CCAP Hand

Orlando -- CommScope is putting its CCAP cards on the table, with an entry that the vendor says not only beats in the industry’s Converged Cable Access Platform architecture targets for QAM channel density but also will be available in configurations for midsize as well as large headends.

The vendor’s Converged Services Platform, to make its public debut at this week’s Cable-Tec Expo, is based on CommScope’s current edge QAM solution (obtained through its acquisition of LiquidXStream Systems last year).

The CommScope CCAP system will be available in two versions: the CSP 640, a nine-rack-unit model with support for a maximum of 9,600 downstream QAMs and aggregate throughput of 640 Gigabits per second; and the 14-RU CSP 1280 (pictured above), with up to 19,200 downstream QAMs and throughput of 1.28 Terabits per second.

“Essentially what we did was built a platform that exceeds the QAM densities specified for CCAP,” said Shane Eleniak, CommScope’s vice president of advanced broadband solutions.

However, in the first iteration the CSP will not cover all the CCAP bases -- most notably, it won’t provide upstream capabilities. In the future, CommScope will add support for upstream DOCSIS and MAC (media access control), native IP processing, Ethernet passive optical network (EPON) and EPON over Coax (EPOC) interfaces, and other features called for in the CCAP blueprint.  

“We designed it as a very dense universal edge QAM,” Eleniak acknowledged.

The CableLabs CCAP definition, which united headend-consolidation projects being pursued by Comcast and Time Warner Cable, ultimately brings together narrowcast and broadcast QAM and cable-termination modem functions into an integrated, highly dense device.

For CommScope, CCAP presents the potential to enter the CMTS area with a fully converged system. Other vendors with CCAP road maps include Arris, Casa Systems, Cisco Systems, Motorola Mobility and Harmonic.

The CSP will be able to serve voice, video or data across up to 160 QAMs per RF port, covering the full spectrum from 54 MHz to 1 GHz. The platform will be available with six-port downstream cards (for a total of 60 RF ports in the 9RU chassis and 120 in the 14RU version). CommScope is developing 12-port upstream cards for the CSP, and operators will be able to mix and match downstream and upstream capacity as needed, Eleniak said.

CommScope has the first CSP units in-house now, with initial lab testing slated to begin at MSOs before the end of the year. The company is targeting the first quarter of 2013 for commercially available product.

“We have spent probably two years talking with our customer base about this solution, and we’ll be showing it for the first time,” Eleniak said.

In terms of pricing, the CommScope CSP systems in a downstream configuration will be on par with the vendor's LxS-16016 universal edge QAM platform, with additional pricing for features on top of that, Eleniak said.

“We can see people deploying this with their existing CMTS,” he said. “We have customers with really different evolution plans. We built an architecture that didn’t say, ‘You have to go from here to there’ -- we just don’t think that’s realistic.”

CommScope will promote the strength of its edge QAM technology as providing more flexibility in the downstream, according to Eleniak. “We’re using our own ASICs [application-specific integrated circuits] for the QAM,” he said.

The largest MSOs worldwide are all closely tracking CCAP developments, but midsize operators are also looking at this, Eleniak noted: “That’s why we developed the smaller 9-RU chassis. The other vendors with CCAP platforms have a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Also at Cable-Tec Expo, CommScope will showcase its new PON solution designed to be deployed in various scenarios including residential fiber-to-the-home, access networks for commercial accounts, multidwelling units, commercial in-building, security and building automation, and wireless access points.

In addition, CommScope will participate in the SCTE Smart Energy Management Showcase with a presentation on its various energy-management solutions, including its hydrogen fuel cell.