CableLabs Schedules First DOCSIS 3.1 Interop

Let the DOCSIS 3.1 plugfests begin.

Following up on a prediction made at last month’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Denver, CableLabs has slated its first-ever DOCSIS 3.1 interop for the week of Dec. 1, 2014.

And with this tweet, CableLabs confirmed that vendor registration is now opened to those that want to bring in their gear for the initial plugfest for early-stage products designed for an emerging platform that will support multi-gigabit speeds over HFC.

A CableLabs official also said there’s no charge for vendors to participate in the interop (aside from travel and personal expenses, of course. “In order to attend, vendors need to fill out the registration form and then CableLabs vets them,” the official added.

So vendors get a break for participating in the D3.1 interop. Under CableLabs’ current pricing, cable modem certification runs $75,000, and CMTS feature set testing starts at $25,000 for one unit, and up to $200,000 for up to 20 units (CableLabs overhauled its CMTS qualification testing structure earlier this year in support of a more bite-sized, feature-focused approach).

But who’s going to show up at this early stage? So far, no one has raised their hand or confirmed that they will indeed be there for the milestone event.

On the network side of the equation there are several cable modem termination system vendors that that have DOCSIS 3.1 in their sights, making Arris, Cisco Systems and Casa Systems among the logical candidates.

Arris, for one, will not be there, acknowledging that it won’t participate in the December lab interop, but is having talks with CableLabs about joining one in January.

Update: Cisco's participation at the December is undecided (as of October 21), according to a spokeswoman.

But Arris, a spokeswoman noted, is supporting the CableLabs DOCSIS 3.1 testing efforts with its flagship E6000, adding that the company demonstrated what it claims to be the first live, public D3.1-based transmission last month at the SCTE event in Denver. There, Arris showed the E6000 running a D3.1-based downstream that utilized orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), a modulation scheme that is part of the new CableLabs specs, in tandem with cable modem test boards from Intel and STMicroelectronics.

“Creating pathways to CCAP interoperability is crucial to ensuring a seamless D3.1 migration, and we commend CableLabs in its efforts to continually advance the development of this standard,” the Arris official added.

It’s also not clear yet if Intel, Broadcom or STMicro will join the party with any modem silicon. An exec with a leading DOCSIS modem vendor suspects that any CPE featured at the interop will likely be based on field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

Official certification and qualification testing for DOCSIS 3.1 is expected to get underway as as early as the second quarter of 2015.