Delays in industrywide cable-modem standards
notwithstanding, some vendors said they will accelerate deployments with @Home
Network's affiliate MSOs following certification under that network's own
The most recent vendor to get so-called Level 2 approval
from @Home was Samsung Telecommunications America Inc. The Dallas-based manufacturer said
last week that @Home had certified its "InfoRanger" cable modem as meeting the
network's standards for interoperability and for remote management by @Home's
national network-operations center.
Cisco Systems Inc. and 3Com Corp. have also gotten Level 2
approval in the past month, and others are pending.
The high-speed-data service is requiring vendors to get
in-house manageability approval -- distinct from the industry's yet-to-be-completed
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, which most vendors will also try to meet
-- to ensure that their DOCSIS-compliant modems actually work on the systems of
@Home's MSO affiliates.
"Level 2 gives us the go-ahead for the product to be
deployed by the affiliates and managed by @Home," said Mark Stubbe, vice president of
Samsung's networks division. "This opens the gate for us for mass deployment
with all of the @Home partners."
Samsung so far has about 25,000 production units of the
InfoRanger deployed at 25 North American MSOs, which are using the modems both in field
trials and in actual deployment.
Stubbe said Samsung had been testing its equipment since
last June in @Home's lab in Redwood City, Calif.
Completion of DOCSIS certification was widely expected by
last fall, although Cable Television Laboratories Inc. indicated earlier this month that
initial modem certifications might not occur until late March.
Although DOCSIS is still regarded as the key to the massive
retail rollout of industry-standard cable modems, vendors facing potentially stiff
competition do not want to wait any longer than necessary to establish their brands in the
burgeoning retail market.
By gaining the ability to show affiliate MSOs that @Home
has given them the green light, vendors have greater entrée to operators and greater
ability to push for aggressive product deployment.
3Com says it has actively been ramping up its deployments
of its U.S. Robotics-brand "Total Control" modem gear with Tele-Communications
Inc. since getting @Home's first Level 2 approval in January for both cable modems
and modem-headend equipment.
William Markey, 3Com's director of marketing, said the
company has deployed the equipment in "dozens" of TCI markets. The first was
Spokane, Wash., where 3Com wants to leverage its existing retailing relationships with
3Com said it has also activated retail markets for Charter
Communications, Susquehanna Cable and Sudbury, Ontario-based Northern Cable.
"Level 2 approval helps us to get to market,"
Markey said. "And once we have the DOCSIS sticker, we plan on introducing this
product to multiple channels as quickly as possible. We feel that our brand helps to
kick-start some of the retail markets, and clearly, @Home does the same thing on the
Samsung is trying to determine compliance with parameters
both for Simple Network Management Protocol elements -- which are needed for remote
management and troubleshooting -- and for features not originally covered by DOCSIS that
are now incorporated into that process.
Jay Rolls, @Home's director of network engineering,
said Level 2 approval also encompasses minimum-performance metrics covering
uniform-data-protocol packet flows, requiring transmission of 1,500-byte packets at
downstream speeds of 7 megabits per second and upstream speeds of 1 mbps with less than a
0.2 percent packet loss.