Rogers Communications of Canada is laying the groundwork for potential downstream speeds of 1 Gigabit per second with the launch of a DOCSIS 3.0-powered gateway capable of bonding 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels.
The rollout is the first by a North American cable operator involving a D3 modem using the 24-by-8 channel-bonding configuration.
The gateway, made by Hitron Technologies Americas, is powered by the Intel Puma 6mg (media gateway) chipset and paired with MaxLinear’s MxL267 Full- Spectrum Capture tuner. A fully-loaded 24-by-8 modem can reach max speeds of 960 Megabits per second downstream and 320 Mbps upstream when used in North American DOCSIS 3.0 systems with 6 Megahertz-wide channel spacing.
In addition to fast speeds entering the home, the gateway also has speedy home networking in mind, thanks to its use of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi radios. Rogers, citing research conducted by Allion USA, said its new gateway is capable of delivering peak in-home wireless speeds of 420 Mbps.
Rogers is renting the new device, dubbed the Advanced Wi-Fi Modem, for $12 per month. Rogers’s current, fastest DOCSIS-based offering is “Ultimate,” which tops out at 150 Mbps downstream by 10 Mbps upstream. Given the extra channel capacity built into the new gateway, Rogers is in position to deliver even faster DOCSIS-powered tiers, and keep the pressure on incumbent telco Bell Canada.
Rogers is currently bonding 12 downstream channels to load balance capacity for earlier-generation D3 gateways that use an 8-by-4 channel configuration. The new Hitron device allows Rogers to future- proof for faster speeds, Robert Goodman, Rogers’ senior director of Internet product management, said.
“We think our eight-downstream modems have a lot of legs left in them, but, in the future, we know that we’ll need to deliver on speed,” Goodman said.
He said the decision to pair a 24/8 channel configuration with a souped-up Wi-Fi platform will enable Rogers to “get some additional headroom in the network and in the customer’s home” and achieve those goals “in one shot.”
A 24-by-8 channel configuration gives an MSO the ability to offer advertised downstream speeds of 300 Mbps or more, but Rogers isn’t hinting at what future speeds it will target with new gateway. “We are prepared to deliver whatever download and upstream speeds our customers are demanding,” Goodman said.
Rogers also offers a fiber-to-the-home, Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON)-based product called “Ultimate Fibre” that delivers downstream speeds up to 250 Mbps and upstream speeds up to 25 Mbps. Unlike Rogers’s DOCSIS platform, which reaches the MSO’s entire footprint, Ultimate Fibre is offered only in select areas, including parts of Toronto and the provider’s Atlantic region.
BIG WIN FOR HITRON
Rogers’ rollout also serves as vindication for Hitron, which has focused heavily on strategies centered on 24-by-8 products based on the Intel/MaxLinear combo. Hitron’s CGN3 received CableLabs certification earlier this year. Rogers is the first announced customer for Hitron’s 24x8 portfolio. Other MSOs that buy gear from Hitron include Suddenlink Communications, ONO of Spain, and ZON of Portugal.
A 24-channel D3 entry from Netgear passed the CableLabs test late last year.
Even faster D3 modems and gateways are on the horizon. Broadcom, for example, has developed a DOCSIS 3.0 chipset that can bond up to 32 channels — enough to produce downstream bursts of 1.2 Gbps using North American DOCSIS channel spacing, and up to 1.6 Gbps in EuroDOCSIS systems that use 8MHz-wide channels.
The emerging DOCSIS 3.1 platform, meanwhile, is targeting maximum speeds of 10 Gbps downstream and 2 Gbps upstream. CableLabs is on track to complete the DOCSIS 3.1 specs later this year.
A new DOCSIS 3.0-powered gateway may be priming the pump for downstream speeds of 1 Gbps.