Cisco Doubles Down on CMTS Downstreams

Cisco Systems is eyeing trials in the first quarter of 2013 of a new line card and processing engine for its uBR10012 cable-modem termination system that double the downstream capacity of the CMTS --  a key stepping stone toward a full-blown Converged Cable Access Platform headend, the vendor says.

Cisco's Performance Routing Engine (PRE5) and 3 Gigabit Shared Port Adapter (3GSPA) effectively double the number of downstream channels available for the uBR10K, from a total of 576 to 1,152, without needing any additional rack space, according to the company. Several “major global service provider customers,” which Cisco did not identify, are on deck to start trials of the new modules in Q1.

“Cisco has been working closely with its cable service provider customers to offer a modular CCAP approach to getting them there with exactly what they need right here, right now, and to transition over time,” Mark Palazzo, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Cable Access business unit, said.

CableLabs’ CCAP specification defines an access architecture that combines CMTS and edge QAM functions into an integrated headend device. The spec is designed to reduce rack space, save power and accelerate the transition to an all-IP network.

At the SCTE’s Cable-Tec Expo in October, Cisco provided an early look at its full CCAP device, the cBR-8, but did not publicly disclose any details of it. Palazzo said the cBR-8 would arrive sometime in 2014.

Today, Cisco's CCAP solution uses the Cisco uBR10K CMTS and the RF Gateway-10 Universal Edge QAM, which the vendor positions as helping MSOs migrate toward a converged multiservice architecture.

Up to eight 3GSPA line cards, each supporting up to 72 downstream channels, can be used per Cisco uBR10K CMTS. That’s in addition to a maximum of eight 72-downstream 3G60 cards, which Cisco introduced in 2010. As with the 3G60 line card, Cisco is offering service providers a per-port, pay-as-you-go licensing structure for the 3GSPA.

Meanwhile, the PRE5 quadruples the chassis capacity to more than 40 Gigabits per second, Cisco said.