Casa Places a Big Bet on CCAP Spec

INTEGRATED C100G CHASSIS EMERGES AS RIVALS TARGET A $1B MARKET
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Casa Systems is taking first-mover advantage with the launch of an integrated chassis designed to meet the specs for the Converged Cable Access Platform, a budding, super-dense architecture that will allow cable to put all services under one roof and pave the way toward an all-Internet- protocol transition.

Casa’s chassis, called the C100G, is the first to market with claims that it can support both quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) and IP-based Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification traffic on the same platform.

Other vendors that are chasing the CCAP market have introduced more modular versions of what Casa’s proposing, or have launched products that will initially support either QAM or DOCSIS traffic and converge the two on the same device later on.

ALREADY INTEGRATED

Going with a fully integrated approach now is a gamble that Casa’s willing to take in the early phases of CCAP trials and deployments. Its next-generation platform can house the vendor’s “CCAP-ready” DS8X96 downstream module, SMM8X10G switching module, and US16x4 module.

The C100G is a follow-on to the Casa 10G, a smaller chassis that was originally developed as a cable-modem termination system (CMTS) that can also operate up to 11 of Casa’s DS8X96 modules. The C100G is also designed to be compatible with denser line cards that Casa has on the roadmap and will release later this year, according to Casa vice president of marketing Mark Sumner, who declined to reveal those specifications.

“The C100G will support significantly more channels. It’s a … denser platform that will be targeted to the tier 1s,” Sumner said.

Casa, he said, has begun to deploy the C100G chassis to yet unnamed customers that are also testing the company’s DS8X96 modules. Liberty Global, Shenzhen Topway Video Communication of China and Citycable of Switzerland are among Casa’s known MSO customers. Citycable, an MSO that serves 70,000 homes and businesses in Lausanne, announced late last year that it had selected the C10G CMTS and intends to tack on CCAP capabilities.

POTENTIAL $1B MARKET

Casa is using the new lineup to target a CCAP market that could be worth more than $1 billion by 2017, according to Multimedia Research Group. In addition to allowing MSOs to unify and streamline how services are delivered, cable systems are looking for space-saving CCAP devices to reduce power and cooling requirements. Sumner expects deployments to begin to pick up in the U.S. and Europe in the second half of the year, noting that cable operators in Asia and Latin America are also taking a close look at CCAP.

Arris Group, Cisco Systems, CommScope and Harmonic are also trying to secure their share of the CCAP pie.

Of that group, Arris, which closed its acquisition of Motorola Home in April, has introduced the E6000 Converged Edge Router, a CCAP-pointing device that’s starting off as a high-density CMTS. The company declined to say when it will bake QAM into the E6000, but a spokeswoman said the company “fully supports the goals and requirements of the CCAP specification” and that it will be “demonstrating converged apps on the E6000 at upcoming tradeshows this quarter.” Arris has not announced the final fate of a similar integrated CCAP product that Motorola Home had under development.

Cisco, meanwhile, is adding CCAP-like densities to its uBR10000 CMTS as it prepares a next-generation platform, the Converged Broadband Router, or cBR-8, for release in early 2014.

CommScope and Harmonic have both introduced “non-routing” CCAP products that will begin as downstream- only, high-density edge QAMs. Both vendors plan to add upstream/CMTS capabilities.

This isn’t the first time Casa has gambled by taking an early lead on technology development. In the early days of DOCSIS 3.0, Casa put extra effort in to become the first (and still only) CMTS vendor to obtain “full” qualification from CableLabs that accounted for both downstream and upstream channel bonding.

That decision led to some limited success. Based on the current state of CMTS markets, Casa is still hammering away at well-entrenched market incumbents Cisco and Arris.

When factoring in its recent acquisition of Motorola Home, Arris represented 59% of CMTS port shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Infonetics Research. Cisco was next, with 32%, followed by Casa’s 9%.

NEW BUYING CYCLE

But Casa and the others are entering the CCAP fray as MSOs start up a new buying cycle that could shake up the market. These are early days, though, and vendors should have time to catch up and be ready when operators are ready to deploy fully integrated CCAP products.

Comcast, for example, is just starting to deploy CCAP. CCAP installations aren’t expected to accelerate until 2014.

Still, Casa’s “successful deployment in both lab and production networks” with the 100G puts the vendor “in a strong position here in the U.S. and globally as operators begin to make their CCAP buying decisions,” Infonetics principal analyst of broadband access and pay TV Jeff Heynen said in a statement.

TAKEAWAY

Cable-gear vendors are looking to take advantage of the superdense Converged Cable Access Platform.

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