Cable majors tweak DOCSIS products to drive virtual CCAP at Anga – Rethink Technology Research

By Thomas Flanagan
June 1, 2017
A line up of major vendors in the cable industry once again used the Anga Com trade show in Cologne to announce tweaks to their DOCSIS 3.1 product lines this year. Usual suspects Arris, Cisco and Casa Systems all unveiled new offerings to accommodate the rising operator demand for DOCSIS 3.1 capable products – but a notable difference this year centered around new types of virtualized CCAP (Converged Cable Access Platform) technologies.
Arris and Cisco unveiled new PHY offerings, while Casa Systems showcased its new passive optical network (PON) and IP network product lines, while smaller German player AVM launched its first product to support DOCSIS 3.1 – all claiming improved savings in cost, space and bandwidth.
The biggest news of the show saw a combination of Arris and nearby Finnish cable provider Teleste, win a deal at Danish operator Stofa to deploy its new headend-to-home DOCSIS 3.1 network technology and distributed architecture, as Stofa prepares its network for delivering UHD TV and more streaming. Teleste revealed it as a two-year deal value at €7 million.
It two announcements were made separately and did not reference each other so it looks like Arris will be working alongside Teleste on the project, or perhaps the two companies are each taking separate slices of the deal. Arris said it supplying the core DOCSIS 3.1 network technology, while Teleste’s products cover amplifiers and RF passives, along with planning services.
Stofa is deploying Arris’ E6000 Converged Edge Router and NC2000 nodes with Remote PHY module across its entire footprint in Denmark. The migration of Stofa’s network to one based on RemotePHY DOCSIS 3.1 technologies will provide Stofa with enhanced network capacity and the capability to pinpoint and fix network issues before complexities arise – claiming to reduce Capex and Opex. Teleste said it will provide Stofa with 1 Gbps cable network speeds.
CCAP is the combination of the network server which drives QAM TV with the CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) which in turn drives DOCSIS connections. Almost all DOCSIS 3.1 is being delivered in CCAP format, and virtualized CCAP has been talked about for the past three years as a method for one of the fastest replacement technologies ever for cable – with a smaller hardware component meaning little economic reason for delay.
Cisco announced its new Infinite Broadband Remote PHY service this week, a product combining the two CableLabs standards, Remote PHY and DOCSIS 3.1, and claiming symmetrical speeds of 600 Mbps. Cisco is hyping up Remote PHY as the technology that forms the foundation of its strategy towards virtualization and full duplex DOCSIS.
Cisco Infinite Broadband builds on its existing cBR-8 converged broadband router and GS7000 node platforms, expanding cable capacity, reducing power consumption, and providing site size savings. Cisco has a large scale customer deployment with Altice, which has rolled out Cisco’s cBR-8 with SFR in France, and last year it began deploying the technology in the US.
Cisco’s product marketing director, Daniel Etman, wrote in a blog post, “To compete with pure fiber, cable operators must scale bandwidth to meet the needs of the market. In the past, they relied on two ‘tried-and-true’ techniques to achieve this end-segmentation and spectrum management. Unfortunately, network segmentation to improve bandwidth distribution has all but reached a physical limitation with legacy CMTS platforms. And adding more ‘boxes’ in already cramped hub sites is not the answer. These kinds of network changes are complex, expensive and don’t solve the long-term problem.”
US disruptive innovator Casa Systems has openly claimed to be the first company to begin shipping full DOCSIS 3.1 products with fully capable upstream technology and is an important player in the market with customers including Time Warner and Belgium’s Telenet. The company has just launched a new suite of products including its 10G PON portfolio, which covers centralized and distributed environments in virtualized or chassis-based components, and an IP network product line including a new edge router, broadband gateway, and NetOS software for routing, switching, security and subscriber management.
Also in Cologne this week, German router manufacturer AVM made its debut DOCSIS 3.1 capable product launch, unveiling its new Fritz 6591 gateways – claiming that deployments are already underway in the US and Europe with unnamed customers. It uses OFDM channel bundling to deliver speeds up to 6 Gbps down and 2 Gbps up, as well as support for and VDSL vectoring.
Harmonic was also showcasing its virtualized CCAP system at Anga Com, but Nokia was a notable absentee from the announcements this week, after snapping up US virtual CCAP start up Gainspeed last year to position it as a viable rival to Arris and Cisco in the space. Having said that, we expect Gainspeed’s technology to win a tier 1 order pretty soon, and with Harmonic’s current financial state of affairs and attractive products, the vultures may be circling the US encoding firm as the CCAP market continues to experience healthy growth.