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A Christmas tale?

Tue, 06/30/1998 - 8:00pm
Roger Brown, Editor in Chief
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Roger Brown, Editor in Chief

Recent rumblings suggest there's a delay in the DOCSIS (data-over-cable service interface specification) testing process that's underway in CableLabs' incubator. Those close to the process say there's no delay, just unrealistic expectations surrounding the testing process, and undo focus on the certification "sticker" that will be issued to vendors who survive the tests.

For example, Broadcom Corp., which is supplying the chipsets for both the headend termination systems as well as the cable modems themselves, has been the subject of rumors, suggesting its chips are flawed. "There are no bugs and there are no flaws in any of our chips," counters Henry Nicholas, Broadcom CEO. "There's a lot more than just chips when it comes to DOCSIS testing."

Indeed, that's true, which is why CableLabs is spending a lot of time on the interoperability tests, according to Rouz-beh Yassini and Bob Cruickshank, the two who are running the CableLabs testing facility. The process has already progressed through eight interoperability demonstrations which have verified that the basic technology and hardware work. The lab has now evolved into three parallel facilities that run simultaneously, but focus on different stages of product readiness.

The bottom line is that the first company or group of companies probably won't be certified until September, at the earliest. Yassini says it will take that long to determine if individual modems and headend units can not only talk to each other, but to every device that's part of a 120-modem network that's being constructed.

For some, that might mean their plans to offer modems at retail will have to be pushed back a little. For others, it means they'll have to delay deployment of service a little longer. But in the end, many contend, the "delay" equates to little more than an eye-blink and is ultimately a good thing if it results in better equipment.

Nicholas points out that in the history of industry, perhaps no other standard has come about from conception to finished product faster than DOCSIS. While that may be, there are some who feel the process could be speeded up even more. Leading vendors are literally chomping at the bit to begin rolling out product at the retail level, and waiting for that final certification is a whole lot like the experience an eight-year-old has on Christmas Eve — the next day can't come fast enough.

This might be a long Christmas Eve for some, but Christmas Day looks wonderful. I just hope I get a cable modem under my tree!

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