Cable-Tec Expo 2010: BigBand Punches Up QAM Density

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BigBand Networks has upped the stakes in the ultra-dense QAM game, announcing a blade for its Media Services Platform with the ability to provide as many as 40 QAMs per port -- for a maximum of more than 3,800 QAMs in a single chassis.

The announcement continues the one-upmanship among QAM vendors to deliver very high-density platforms, to let MSOs more flexibly deliver an increasing amount of unicast video, data and other services. In August, Harmonic introduced the "HectoQAM" blade for its NSG 9000 platform, with 36 QAMs per port and up to 648 quadrature amplitude modulation channels in a 3.5-inch-high box.

In a statement, Comcast vice president of access architecture Jorge Salinger said, "With the advent of more narrowcast services, CMAP-class platforms will be needed to increase QAM-per-port density without using additional powering or rack space. BigBand is addressing the demanding access requirements facing MSOs to enable an easier migration towards next-generation converged service delivery at the edge."

BigBand will show off the MSP QAM at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, Oct. 20-22 in New Orleans. The product is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2011.

The BigBand MSP QAM is a blade or plug-in to the BigBand MSP platform including both the MSP1200 compact chassis platform and the higher capacity MSP2800.  The MSP1200 offers support for an excess of 1,200 QAMs per chassis and the higher capacity MSP2800 will support more than 3,800 QAMs per chassis with a software upgrade.

"Single-purpose QAMs are no longer sufficient, and the new architecture demands a platform that streamlines operations, provides the flexibility to share bandwidth between services, and ensures the ability to quickly add new services," BigBand vice president of QAM product line management Ilan Kaftan said in a statement. "BigBand's MSP leverages our QAM leadership and advanced media processing capabilities to enable service providers to expand new services in a highly cost effective and reliable manner."

According to BigBand, the MSP QAM provides carrier-class "five 9s" uptime with full redundancy, including full RF and input-level redundancy.

The product also is designed to support dynamic bandwidth allocation across the entire RF spectrum for each of the 40 QAMs -- allowing QAM channels to be placed anywhere in the spectrum. By contrast, the Harmonic HectoQAM supports the allocation of QAM channels within a 384-MHz frequency window.

To date, BigBand claims, it has shipped more than 820,000 QAM devices to 60 customers worldwide.