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Cisco Eyes Cable Bonding

Cisco Systems Inc. plans to showcase a broad product array, ranging from voice-over-Internet protocol and home networking applications to digital video transport gear, at next week’s National Show in San Francisco.

But its wideband, channel bonding product, part of Cisco’s next-generation network IP-centric view of the world, may get the most attention.

With channel bonding, operators expand the number of quadrature amplitude modulation channels devoted to high-speed data applications. “We take a fat pipe and make it fatter,” said John Mattson, director of cable marketing, for the Broadband Edge and Midrange Routing Business Unit, at Cisco.

“With channel bonding, you put multiple QAM channels together and strip the data across all those channels,” he said. “You can bundle 2 to 24 channels together across a CMTS [cable-modem termination system]. Instead of 38 megabits in a single QAM, you get 912 megabits, which is 24 QAM channels.”

This would allow operators to offer 50 Mbps or even 100 Mbps to the home. International cable operators are looking at wideband. Closer to home, some domestic MSOs are also eyeing the product, Mattson said, especially those staring at the prospects of Verizon fiber-to-the-premises platforms, which promise to deliver 30 Mbps service, competing in their services areas.

Channel bonding is being discussed as part of the next-generation DOCSIS 3.0 standards work underway at Cable Television Laboratories Inc., Mattson said. Current Cisco equipment could be configured to handle wideband Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification gear.

“You can take the existing CMTS, which already has line cards, and stick wideband on a port adapter slot,” he said. “You can pump Gigabit Ethernet out of the CMTS to an existing edge QAM.”

Operators would need to find the bandwidth to set aside greater numbers of QAMs for high-speed data service, including QAMs set aside for analog video, he said. “MSOs are very interested in this,” Mattson said.

Cisco also will showcase its Gigabit Ethernet digital video support structure, which allows operators to transport video around their networks using IP. Spanish cable operator Ono is using Cisco gear for IP video transport to the edge, before conversion to MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) transport to the home, he said.

For that architecture, Cisco uses its ONS 15454 with ROADM transport gear, its 7600 series router integrated with 10 Gb DWDM, its uBR 7246VXR CMTS and uMG9850 QAM module.

The company will also exhibit its VoIP, home networking and commercial services applications geared for cable operators. Time Warner Cable has been Cisco’s lead cable VoIP customer, using its soft switches, voice-enabled CMTS, routers and voice gateway products for its VoIP rollout.

Charter Communications Inc.. is using Cisco switches, routers and CMTS equipment for its commercial services division. With its purchase of Linksys, Cisco has entered the home-networking space, and will showcase that product line at the National Show.