Expo So Far

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By Ron Hendrickson

Thus far, a few of the big themes at this year's Cable-Tec Expo look to be CCAP, DOCSIS 3.1, and making things simpler for the subscriber.

CCAP, a combination of Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) CMAP and Time Warner Cable's (NYSE:TWC) CESAR projects, has finally come to the realm of the physical: That is, products now exist, rather than just ideas and PowerPoint slides. Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), Harmonic (NASDAQ:HLIT), CommScope, Casa Systems, and ARRIS (NASDAQ:ARRS) are all showing off CCAP boxes in Orlando. Broadly speaking, the gear combines CMTS and edge QAM modulator features in one piece of equipment, with the object of reducing cost per megabit, rack space, and powering requirements.

The next generation of DOCSIS, long rumored and now dubbed 3.1, was formally announced at Expo. The spec's expected to be completed next year and to accommodate speeds up to 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps up. A working group within the SCTE's standards organization will develop best practices and requirements around preparing networks for the new DOCSIS spec, as well as higher-capacity signaling schemes generally.

The advent of multiscreen and over-the-top (OTT) content sources, while a good thing, has also led to a degree of content fragmentation. Content is available from scads of sources and in enormous volume, which in turn has created a Google effect: Sheer volume makes it hard for subs to find what they want and get it to the appropriate device. It's not just video, either. Even landline telephony is now moving around as well - continuing a trend that ramped up this spring around the Cable Show in Boston - as is personal content, such as social media, personal photos, and so forth.

Outfits such as SeaChange International (NASDAQ:SEAC) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) are working on the video piece to unify the customer experience within one portal (the cable operator's), as well as recommendation engines and preference-driven content bundles. Others, such as UXP Systems, GENBAND and Metaswitch are working on the telephony piece, also with unified portals. The unified portal is the, well, unifying concept.

Ron Hendrickson is BTR's managing editor. Reach him at ron@broadbandtechreport.com.

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