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Game changing at Motorola

Mon, 03/01/2010 - 8:39am
Brian Santo

Big changes at Motorola. Home & Networks Mobility is going to be bundled with the handset division whether or not the handset operation gets sold. And if Joe Cozzolino can pull it off, you can kiss the CMTS goodbye – Motorola’s got an idea for a product even more powerful for cable operators that will provide performance leaps and bounds beyond what today’s CMTS can do.

After having dispatched him literally all over the world during the last eight years, Motorola has brought Cozzolino home and named him senior vice president and general manager of access networks for Motorola’s Mobile Devices and Home business.

Joe CozzolinoMotorola plans on leveraging the broad range of technologies in that seeming hodgepodge of operating units, pulling together its native expertise in video processing, routing and access technology to create what could be the most powerful new platform that cable has seen in a while.

Best of all, there’s a straight evolutionary migration path from the HFC equipment operators know and love to run until every last penny of ROI is wrung out of it, Cozzolino says.

Motorola has plotted a path toward what it’s calling a Video Services Edge Platform, a single product that will combine multiple functions.

“Now an Ethernet router feeds multiple CMTSs, which interface with universal edge QAMs. That’s three separate sets of boxes. That’ll now be one,” Cozzolino said.

Cozzolino is reserving details, but the idea is to converge all of the processing elements at the edge along with access technology – specifically passive optical networks. (Motorola is a key supplier of GPON technology for Verizon’s FiOS).

Motorola got into the CMTS business with its acquisition of River Delta Networks in 2001. Cozzolino was with River Delta and came to Motorola with the purchase.

Cozzolino intends to continue on the current development path with the BSR – Motorola’s CMTS – with subsequent improvements.

For example, last year Motorola increased the density of its decoupled downstream CMTS module, the TX32, to 32 downstreams. Coming next is a 48-stream module. Meanwhile, QAM density is increasing, too.

The technology is moving from a gigabit per slot toward hundreds of gigabits per slot, and hundreds of QAMs per blade, Cozzolino noted, leading to an enormous increase in capacity.

The point is that if you bring in Ethernet switching, and then put all of that super-high-density access equipment and QAMs in a single cabinet, it will tremendously simplify the headend.

Motorola will try to architect new blades for the BSR chassis in such a way that they will also be usable in the Video Services Edge Platform.

Cozzolino said he called in a colleague, former River Delta CTO Jerry White, to map all of this out and bounce the notion of the converged edge off of MSOs all around the world.

Cozzolino said that White returned to report that the notion is consistent with what most MSOs are looking for.

That kind of a headend would have capabilities unimaginable in today’s architecture. “You could do local caching,” he suggested. “You’ll have a content delivery network to stream HTTP and linear content, and maybe some high-use films. But then you might have a terabyte blade, just one blade, to cache it all.

“We’ve got the wireless, so we can go to three screens,” Cozzolino continued. “We have routing. We have expertise with access technologies like PON. We have the storage. Our customers tell us we have everything they want – if we can ever pull it together.”

If they can pull it together. The company is on an accelerated development path. Cozzolino believes Motorola can get to where it intends to go within 18 to 24 months.

Back when Motorola bought River Delta, there were six or seven major CMTS suppliers. Motorola and Cisco emerged as the two major suppliers, and between them controlled the market for years.

A few years ago, however, Arris leapfrogged Motorola, and last quarter Arris pulled ahead of Cisco to become the biggest supplier of CMTS equipment in terms of shipments. But at the same time, Motorola won a few points of share back.

Could the new plan put Motorola back on top?

“One customer told us that if we pull this off, we’ll be logarithmically ahead of our competitors,” Cozzolino said.

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