CableLabs Blesses Hitron’s 1-Gig DOCSIS 3.0 Gateway

A gateway from Hitron Technologies quietly received certification from CableLabs earlier this year, making it among the first DOCSIS 3.0-powered device capable of bonding 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels.

Hitron’s new cable gateway family, the CGN3, can support downstream burst speeds of 960 Mbps when fully loaded. That’s paired with the ability to support max upload speeds of about 320 Mbps. And that’s for North American DOCSIS systems that use 6MHz-wide channels. In EuroDOCSIS systems, which use wider 8MHz channels, a fully-loaded CGN3 could pump out as much as 1.32 Gbps downstream.

The CGN3 apparently secured CableLabs certification earlier during test wave 96 earlier this year, according to this list of CableLabs-certified products (PDF). Certification came to light on Monday, however, when MaxLinear announced that the CGN3 is outfitted with its MxL267 Full-Spectrum Capture (FSC) digital cable front-end receiver, and made mention of the recent CableLabs achievement. The FSC component means the device can capture channels for bonding anywhere in the cable spectrum rather than from more limited 100MHz-wide blocks. Arris and Netgear are among other announced DOCSIS modem vendors that use MaxLinear’s FSC technology, a MaxLinear spokesman said. Broadcom bakes in a similar feature in its new line of DOCSIS 3.0 chipsets that it calls Full-Band Capture.

DOCSIS 3.0 certification technically clears the CGN3 for retail sale, but it's a step that will help Hitron with its direct-to-MSO sales strategy. Cable operators typically require modem and gateway vendors to obtain CableLabs certification in addition to the internal testing they conduct on products they purchase and lease to customers.

No U.S. cable operator has announced plans to offer 1-Gig speeds to the home using the DOCSIS network, but having access to gateways that can achieve such burst speeds at least gives them a potential option as they free up more spectrum and figure out how to respond to emerging 1-Gig competition from Google Fiber and other fiber-to-the-home rivals.

Hitron has not announced any customers for its new 1-Gig gateway, but a tier 1 North American cable operator has plans to roll out the new model “in volume” by this August or September, Hitron chief sales and marketing officer Todd Babic said. Two other MSOs are slated to start field trials by the end of the year, he added.

Hitron isn’t revealing those MSOs by name, but Suddenlink Communications, Canada’s Rogers Communications, Germany’s Kabel Deutschland,  ONO of Spain, and ZON of Portugal are among the MSOs that buy DOCSIS modems and gateways from Hitron.

Babic said Hitron does not expect to sell the CGN3 at retail, anticipating that MSOs will instead lease the device as part of premium-level, “white gloves” service packages.

Hitron’s CGN3 is also powered by the Intel Corp.-made Puma 6 chipset, which supports two channel-bonding configurations: the 24x8 “media gateway” version that Hitron is using, as well as a 16x4 version that maxes out at 640 Mbps downstream.

The CGN3 also bakes in a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and an 802.11n 3x3 dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi access point. Looking ahead, Hitron expects by this fall to start shipping the CGN4, a 24x8 D3 gateway that will incorporate 802.11ac, a version of Wi-Fi that will flirt with 1 Gig speeds. Future Hitron models will also tack on support for the 2.0 version of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) (for high-speed networking over the home's coax network) and cable voice services, Babic said.

The Arris-made DG1670A, a wireless data gateway that uses a 16x4 configuration, obtained CableLabs certification in Wave 97, as did the TG1672G, another 16x4 gateway that also handles voice services. Arris has announced two 24x8 products: the DG2470 data wireless gateway, and the TG2472, a voice/data wireless gateway, but has not revealed when it intends to shoot for certification. Netgear has also obtained certification for a 1-Gig DOCSIS 3.0 gateway that also uses Intel silicon.