DOCSIS 3.0’s 1-Gig Breakthrough

CableLabs Blesses Hitron's Souped-Up Gateway
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Cable operators have an opportunity to get their mitts on a CableLabs-approved DOCSIS 3.0 gateway that can get them within shouting distance of downstream speeds of 1 Gigabit per second. But there’s still no telling when MSOs will free up enough capacity in order to wield the device’s full speed potential.

CableLabs documents revealed that Hitron became the first cablemodem vendor to achieve that distinction on a device that can bond up to 24 downstream channels and eight downstream channels — enough to support speed bursts of 960 Megabits per second downstream and 320 Mbps upstream when fully loaded. In EuroDOCSIS systems, which use wider 8MHz-wide channels, that same device could pump out as much as 1.32 Gbps downstream.

Hitron confirmed that the product, called the CGN3, was awarded certification during test wave 96 earlier this year. The gateway, outfitted with an 802.11n 3x3 dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi access point, features the Intel Puma 6 media gateway chipset and the MaxLinear MxL267 Full-Spectrum Capture (FSC) digital front-end receiver. The FSC piece is key because it enables the device to capture channels for bonding from anywhere in the cable spectrum rather than from more limited 100-MHz-wide blocks.

Hitron didn’t disclose pricing on the device, but an industry source said lesscapable DOCSIS 3.0 gateways outfitted with 16x4 channel bonding configurations can be had for about $140 to $145 per unit, depending on which bells and whistles are included. “You need volume to make this [product] work,” the source said.

Achieving DOCSIS 3.0 certification gives Hitron clearance to sell the CGN3 at retail. But it’s also an achievement that could help it sell directly to MSOs, as most cable operators require vendors to obtain CableLabs certification and go through their own battery of tests.

Hitron has not announced any customers for its new 1-Gig gateway, but a tier 1 North American cable operator has plans to roll out the new model “in volume” by this August or September, Hitron chief sales and marketing officer Todd Babic said. Two other MSOs are slated to start field trials by the end of the year, he added.

Hitron isn’t revealing those MSOs by name, but Suddenlink Communications, Canada’s Rogers Communications, Germany’s Kabel Deutschland, ONO of Spain, and ZON of Portugal are among the MSOs that buy DOCSIS modems and gateways from Hitron.

No cable operator has announced plans to offer 1-Gbps speeds to the home using DOCSIS technology, but having access to gateways that can achieve such burst speeds at least gives them that option as they free up more spectrum and determine how to respond to emerging 1-Gig competition from Google Fiber and other fiber-to-the-home rivals.

Babic said Hitron does not expect to sell the CGN3 at retail, anticipating that MSOs will instead lease the device as part of premium-level, “white-gloves” service packages.

Looking ahead, Hitron expects by this fall to start shipping the CGN4, a 24x8 D3 gateway that will incorporate 802.11ac, a version of Wi-Fi that flirts with 1 Gig speeds. Future Hitron models will also tack on support for the 2.0 version of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) (for high-speed networking over the home’s coax network) and cable voice services, Babic said.

The Arris-made DG1670A, a wireless data gateway that uses a 16x4 configuration, obtained CableLabs certification in wave 97, as did the TG1672G, a 16x4 gateway with cable voice capabilities. Arris has announced two 24x8 products: the DG2470 data wireless gateway, and the TG2472, a voice/ data wireless gateway, but has not revealed when it intends to shoot for CableLabs certification. Netgear has also developed a 1-Gig DOCSIS 3.0 gateway that has yet to get the green light from CableLabs.

TAKEAWAY

A new CableLabs-approved DOCSIS 3.0 gateway can get operators close to speeds of 1 Gbps — if they have the capacity to go that fast.

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