Broadcom announced this morning at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it was the first vendor to debut a DOCSIS 3.1-based system-on-a-chip (SoC) for cable operators.
Cable operators have been frothing at the mouth for DOCSIS 3.1 gear and today’s announcement from Broadcom included executive quotes from the two largest cable operators in the world, Comcast and Liberty Global, both of whom said they planned to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 gear and services this year.
While Comcast CTO and executive vice president Tony Werner and Liberty Global CTO and executive vice president Balkan Nair expressed their optimism for DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts, neither explicitly said they were buying Broadcom’s new BCM3390 chip set. Other chipmakers developing DOCSIS 3.1 silicon include STMicroelectrics and Intel, both of whom are also at CES this week.
The BCM3390 features a modem reference design with integrated Wi-Fi to provide in-home wireless speeds of up 2 gigabits, providing a migration path for cable operators to transition to all-IP video.
“Broadcom has engineered a breakthrough technology for operators to exceed Gigabit speeds on existing cable networks while simultaneously improving operational efficiencies,” said Dan Marotta, Broadcom executive vice president and general manager, broadband and connectivity group. “With our new cable modem SoC, service providers can immediately begin to unlock the value of DOCSIS 3.1 to provide their subscribers with the best home networking experiences.”
Designed to support gigabit speeds while improving the spectral efficiencies of the available spectrum, the DOCSIS 3.1 specification enables higher-order modulations in existing HFC networks without changes to the existing cable plant. The combination of low-density parity check-based Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology in DOCSIS 3.1 allow operators to more efficiently install more data in the existing spectrum.
Some of the key DOCSIS 3.1 specifications for the BCM3390 include:
• Two OFDM 196 MHz downstream channels
• Thirty-two single-carrier DOCSIS 3.0 QAM downstream channels
• Two 96 MHz OFDM-A upstream channels
• Eight single-carrier DOCSIS 3.0 QAM upstream channels.
Broadcom also said its new chip included full support for PacketCable voice and e-router applications, including the emerging RDK-Broadband software for broadband modems. The RDK-B is an offshoot of the cable industry’s Reference Design Kit that is managed by Comcast, Liberty Global and Time Warner Cable.
Broadcom said its BCM3390 DOCSIS 3.1 device was currently sampling. The BCM3390 cable modem reference design integrating high-speed 5G Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and 802.11n Wi-Fi is available for demonstration.
“The next generation of DOCSIS technology supports the Gigabit speeds our subscribers will increasingly demand over time,” said Liberty Global’s Nair. “DOCSIS 3.1 will enable Liberty Global to deliver an even richer experience once we begin deploying this cost-effective technology during the second half of 2015.”
“DOCSIS 3.1 is a critical technology for Comcast to provide even faster, more reliable data speeds and features such as IP video to our subscribers’ homes by harnessing more spectrum in the downstream,” said Tony Werner, Comcast Executive Vice-President. “By more effectively using our cable plant to grow our total throughput, we expect to offer our customers more than 1 Gigabit speeds in their homes in 2015 and beyond.”
CableLabs finalized the first set of DOCSIS 3.1 specs in late 2013 and since then cable operators have been waiting for the silicon vendors to come up with the new chipsets. CableLabs conducted its first DOCSIS 3.1 interop last month with another one slated for later this month.