Terayon Classes Up Its DOCSIS 2.0 CMTS

In the competition between cable-modem termination system vendors, you need a lot of class to win over cable operators. That's what Terayon Communication Systems Inc. hopes with the announcement that its BW 3500 is the first Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 2.0 CMTS to carry redundant capabilities for "carrier class" reliability — a benchmark used to indicate that telco gear is durable enough to operate 99.999 percent of the time, even during power outages, floods and other natural or network disasters.

Getting to that level with a DOCSIS 2.0 controller is an important step in convincing cable operators that the technology is ready for mass deployment, according to Elisa Camahort, director of product marketing.

That's because operators are looking to make money by expanding the number of services running on their current networks and get into new market segments such as enterprise.

"To do either of those things — deliver new services to existing subscribers, or get into that new-subscriber base — there are new demands on the technology, one of which is high availability," Camahort said.

The CW 3500 does so in its design, which provides a backup for each of the unit's major components, so failure on no single element can bring the unit down. It has automatic fault-detection software that can automatically switch operations to these backups.

Cable operators can configure the unit with one redundant per primary component or create a radio frequency redundancy cluster group, so each of the unit's line cards has multiple backups.

Software-based DOCSIS 2.0 uses advanced physical layer technology to boost the upstream bandwidth to three times that of DOCSIS 1.1 technology, and has better filtering capabilities to screen out noise. But because it is a relatively new standard, it has not yet seen carrier-class gear.

"It is something that will require vendors to look at their solutions and tune them for DOCSIS 2.0," Camahort said. "There is just an increased amount of information that will need to be preserved and replicated to allow your modems to not go offline."

During a quarterly earnings call, Terayon officials noted a top U.S. cable operator is preparing for the first-ever deployment of a DOCSIS 2.0 system anchored by the BM 3500. Making sure the unit was reliable was a key ingredient in that process, Camahort said.

"To that operator, one of the things that was important was that they buy one vendor's gear that could satisfy a wide range of needs, and a wide range of operating conditions in their plant," Camahort said. "They have a variety of cable systems out there, and they need DOCSIS 2.0 available to them."

But will that be enough for Terayon to build on given cable operators as yet haven't even deployed DOCSIS 2.0 in their systems? Camahort said yes, given cablers are asking for the DOCSIS 2.0 capability.

"It doesn't necessarily require that they want to deploy the 2.0 profiles from day one," she said. "It is to understand that they want to have that built in, and not have to go swap hardware or revisit software architectures in six months or nine months or 12 months. It's all about long shelf life."