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Wave 7’s Farmer: Fiber providers shouldn’t fret about DOCSIS 3.0

Fri, 09/26/2008 - 8:35am
Mike Robuck

According to TelephonyOnline, Wave 7 Chief Network Architect Jim Farmer said at a conference this week that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) providers don’t need to feel overly threatened by the cable industry’s DOCSIS 3.0 rollouts.

Farmer, speaking at this week’s Fiber-to-the-Home Conference, was quoted by TelephonyOnline as saying DOCSIS 3.0 wasn’t a “FTTH-killer, though it may help [cable operators] in some cases.” Farmer went on to say that DOCSIS 3.0 would be a more limited threat than most people think.

DOCSIS 3.0 can achieve downstream broadband speeds of up to 160 Mbps by bonding 6 MHz – or in the case of Europe and some parts of Asia and Latin America, 8 MHz – channels together. DOCSIS upstream channel bonding, which will be deployed after downstream channel bonding, can provide up to 120 Mbps of shared throughput for cable operators.

Current requirements for DOCSIS 3.0 call for equipment to support channel bonding on at least four upstream and four downstream channels, although the platform gives operators the flexibility to bond as few as two channels to meet market needs and competition. DOCSIS 3.0’s speeds are limited only by the number of bonded channels, so as DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem technology continues to evolve, the ability to support more and more bonded channels will be the result. Channels used for bonding don’t need to be adjacent.

Farmer said DOCSIS 3.0 is limited because of the deployed number of MPEG-2-based set-top boxes, which means cable operators won’t be able to take advantage of the 50 percent bit-rate reduction that MPEG-4 offers.

He also said for every 38 Mbps of data in the downstream, cable operators lose the ability to program 10 SD, or two HD, channels, which Farmer, who has a history in the cable industry and has spoken on panels at cable industry events, said was “a big headache for the cable industry.”

Comcast and Videotron have deployed pre-certified DOCSIS 3.0 gear by Cisco earlier this year, while various cable modem manufacturers have received certification from CableLabs in 2008, as well. 

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has said his company is targeting 20 percent of its customer base for DOCSIS 3.0 by year’s end, with the rollouts expected to occur in the areas where Comcast competes directly with Verizon’s fiber optic service.

Time Warner Cable is deploying DOCSIS 3.0 in select markets this year.

More Broadband Direct:

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• Broadband Briefs for 9/26/08

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