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SP360: Service Provider

Three years ago, when I blogged about the Cable Converged Access Platform (CCAP), current events involved whether it would be called “CMAP,” “CESAR,” or something else entirely. (So much clearer in hindsight!)

Last year, when I blogged about CCAP at The Cable Show, current events centered on phasing, and how to prepare plant and infrastructure for the unified QAMs of CCAP — while the gear itself was being architected and built.

For what was Phase 1, we suggested that service providers begin combining video and data QAMs. That’s easy to say until you start running out of rack space. We quelled those concerns with our (then-new) high-density, universal edge QAM — the RF Gateway-10 (RFGW-10). Fully loaded with ten 8-port DS384 card (128 QAMs per port), it supports over 10,000 QAMs per chassis – or 160 Gigabits per second.

This year, we’re deep into Phase 2, and current events in CCAP are about continued scale and market momentum. On the scale front, and since last year’s Cable Show, we doubled downstream capacity, and quadrupled upstream capacity. Cox Communications completed two CCAP trials with us, involving the 3G SPA and the PRE5. Its plan is to combine our new CMTS modules and high-density DS384 line cards in the RFGW-10, so as to double downstream capacity, and to simultaneously quadruple wide area network backhaul capacity, all in the existing chassis.

Important: We architected the doubling and quadrupling in a way that preserves the huge capital investment cable operators already made in broadband CMTS gear, and particularly our uBR10012. (I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that the uBR is the single largest deployed base of CMTS gear on the planet.)

Another cool and unprecedented feature: Converged DOCSIS and video traffic, on a single port. That hasn’t happened before, and it’s a big deal toward unified QAMs – one of the original and sustaining design goals of CCAP. By collapsing traffic onto one port, we reduce rack space and powering needs by 35%. Saving on heating, cooling and power is another major design goal of CCAP.

The downstream doubling comes from our 3G SPA — where the “3G” stands for 3 Gbps, and “SPA” stands for wideband “Shared Port Adapter.” Up to eight 3G SPAs can be used per uBR10012, and each one can support up to 72 downstreams. Fully loaded, the 3G SPA expands the number of channels per chassis from 576 to 1152.

(I realize this is a lot of spec-talk, but bandwidth is a numbers game. The numbers on the broadband consumption side are so ridiculously high – more than 50% CAGR every year since 2009 – that it I think it matters to show how seriously the supply-side of the equation is working to keep operators ahead of the demand curve.)

Anyway — the upstream quadrupling comes from our new Performance Routing Engine-5 (PRE5), which takes WAN backhaul from 10 Gbps to 40 Gbps. Again: This is all about expanding capacity without the dreaded “forklift upgrade.” We’re making it available on a per-port, pay-as-you-go licensing structure, in keeping with service provider economics.

And yes. There is a Phase 3, and it is sizzlin’ hot — but that’s all I can say for now. Everything I just described will be there for you to see. Booth 1819. Come by and see us at The Cable Show!

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