News

S-A Surfs Pacific Into CMTS Market

9/26/2001 4:13 AM Eastern

Scientific-Atlanta Inc. is buying its way into the high-speed
cable-modem-equipment market through a sales and distribution deal forged with
upstart Pacific Broadband Communications.

Under the deal, S-A will have exclusive marketing and distribution rights in
North America and nonexclusive rights worldwide to Pacific Broadband's 'Kodiak'
cable-modem-termination system. With a new S-A name, the 'Prisma G10' can crank
out 32 downstream channels and 128 upstream channels using higher-yield 16
quadrature amplitude modulation.

The Prisma is also one of the earliest advanced-physical-layer (PHY) CMTS
units to hit the market. Pacific's CMTS and an upgrade line card for existing
CMTS units are built around a home-grown silicon-chip design and advanced PHY
capabilities using A-TDMA (asynchronous time-division multiple access) to boost
return-path performance and bandwidth.

It is set for several field trials with major MSOs in November, and it will
be available by the end of the year.

Cable Television Laboratories Inc., the industry's cable-technology
consortium, recently announced that it would be developing a Data Over Cable
Service Interface Specification 2.0 standard using advanced PHY technology with
A-TDMA and S-CDMA (synchronous code-division multiple access) options.

Pacific is working on a next-generation CMTS using both schemes, with plans
to debut it in 2002.

S-A has been largely on the sidelines in cable-data equipment, concentrating
instead on transmission and digital-video technology. The decision to jump back
in came from customers that were increasingly looking to create dual video-data
delivery networks, according to vice president of network architectures Paul
Connolly.

'A couple of years back, it wasn't clear if operators were going to make a
fundamental bet on data, and what we are seeing now is that clearly, data is
very important for the operators,' he said. 'Our customers are telling us, `We
don't want to have video networks that can do a bit of data. We want multimedia
networks.''

S-A had invested in San Jose, Calif.-based Pacific earlier this year, and the
two companies had worked together on the Prisma Internet-protocol CMTS line
card.

Pacific, meanwhile, had planned to create its own product-sales and support
services. But after talking with potential customers, there were worries that
the product might prove too popular.

'The overall concern we heard back from our customer base was that they felt
very comfortable with our ability to deliver a system, and they felt very
comfortable with the core technology,' Pacific vice president of worldwide sales
and customer support Mike Allen said. 'But the concerns were along the lines of,
`How are you going to support it? How are you going to service it?''

So it began talking with S-A about representing Pacific's product.

'Those initial dialogs were not an exclusive arrangement, and they very
quickly turned into an exclusive arrangement,' Allen said. Using S-A's
well-established sales and service teams is a plus, because 'this is a product
line that will require a lot of service, a lot of hand-holding. It's a
complicated piece of hardware.'

The two companies have agreed to specific sales goals for the product line,
but they are not releasing that information. Pricing for the unit is also not
being disclosed.

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