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Yes, Virginia, There is a (Very!) Long-Term Future for DOCSIS Technologies

Contributed By John Chapman, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Cable Access Business Unit, and Engineering Fellow

Earlier this year, as part of CableLabs’ “Innovation Showcase,” in Atlanta, we showed how DOCSIS 3.0-based technologies can gracefully and powerfully scale, if operators were to continue increasing the number of digital channels they place into a DOCSIS bond.

The question we were endeavoring to answer was this: Is DOCSIS dead, or does it have another 15+ years of life in it? The answer is clearly the latter.  Why? Because the classification and QoS features in backbone routers (like our recently announced ASR 9000 System) are architected for massive speed, in terms of packets-per-second - and those features will migrate down into cable CMTS gear.

The demo for CableLabs focused on our 3G60 CMTS cards, which bonded 48 downstream channels and 12 upstream channels, using 256 QAM in the downstream, and 64-QAM in the upstream. The result was a 1.6 Gbps downstream pipe, and 300 Mbps upstream. But that was back in February. The bond size was generous, but still partial. When you consider the full spectrum capacity of cable television systems - from 54 MHz to 1 GHz, downstream, and from 5 MHz to 42 MHz upstream - clearly, there’s a lot more breathing room for wideband IP services.

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CMAP, CESAR, Whatever It Takes

By Mark Palazzo, VP/GM, Cable Access Business Unit, Cisco Systems

One of the more nuanced aspects of hard-core technological developments in the cable industry these recent months is the “CMAP v. CESAR” debate. Haven’t heard of it? Boiled way down, it’s a different set of viewpoints about the best way to migrate to a converged CMTS and universal edge QAM architecture, in conjunction with cable’s HFC (hybrid fiber-coax) plant migration.

To put this in historical context, cable operators “went digital” in phases. Digital video was first, followed by broadband data via cable modems, followed fairly shortly after by voice over IP. Operators use a form of modulation called “QAM” (quadrature amplitude modulation) to get video, data and voice signals over the plant to subscribing homes and businesses.

At issue was simple market timing: Digital video vendors built QAM products specifically to support video; broadband-side vendors built different QAM products, for high-speed data; and voice equipment vendors built QAM based TDM products for voice. The proprietary data and voice products where later replaced with the standardized DOCSIS CMTS platform. Read More »

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Coffee with Shoptalk: Highlights from CTAM Summit, SCTE Expo

Contributed by Mark Palazzo, VP/GM for Cisco’s Cable Access Business Unit

On the last day of a New Orleans week that contained two major conventions - the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ (SCTE) annual Cable Tec-Expo, preceded by the Cable Television Association for Marketing’s (CTAM) Summit -- early morning shop talk requires a strong cup of coffee.

That’s what prompted this impromptu chat between me and Leslie Ellis, Multichannel News columnist and winner of the 2010 SCTE/WICT Women in Technology award.

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SCTE 2010: Cisco Introduces the Key Enabler of Video-over-DOCSIS (VDOC)

Contributed by John Mattson, Director of Product Management, Cable Marketing

New 3G60 Broadband Processing Engine Enables Cable Operators to Cost-Effectively Move to All-IP Networks

The long-awaited 3G60 line card for the uBR10012 CMTS has finally arrived.  Ever since Cisco first conceived this line card, many worldwide cable providers have been waiting for its debut with breathless anticipation.  In my 22 years in the cable industry I can’t recall any other product with as much advance customer interest as this one.

Why is the 3G60 such a hot commodity?  Because it finally brings the right combination of very high capacity and very low cost-per-port that enables operators to realistically deploy Video-over-DOCSIS (VDOC) service.  And VDOC is the key to moving to a converged, all-IP network, which dramatically reduces both capital and operating costs and provides unprecedented flexibility to introduce new services quickly and efficiently.

The 3G60 provides up to 72 downstream ports and 60 upstream ports on a single line card, -- over 3 times the density of any line card on the market today.  Using the 3G60, a single uBR10012 can support up to 576 downstream and 480 upstream ports per chassis.  In addition, starting from a minimal base system, all of the upstream and downstream ports on the 3G60 can be provisioned via software licensing, so customers can install the card and then only pay for the ports they use.  The 3G60 supports DOCSIS® 3.0 downstream channel bonding of as few as 2 up to as many as 24 channels, which makes downstream speeds of over 900 megabits per second possible. Read More »

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