Cable Digital News
“A Decade of Docsis”
Jeff Baumgartner

Dr. Rouzbeh Yassini,”Father of the Cable Modem” had some interesting opinions to share about the future of Docsis recently, but recognizing the 10-year anniversary of the first certifications has not escaped his attention. So…Rouzbeh asked me to post this note here, and I’m happy to oblige:

Thursday, 3-19-2009 is the 10th year anniversary of the first DOCSIS certification, where 432 engineers, analysts, executives, media experts and visionaries from 73 companies worked with passion, love, and know how at CableLabs to create the industry’s first standard solution for high speed connectivity. On this 10th year Anniversary of DOCSIS first certification, I would like to congratulate all the contributors who built this global revolution which is now commonly referred to as Broadband with well over 200 Million modems installed worldwide.
What a journey, Congratulations DOCSIS!!
-Rouzbeh Yassini

Happy 10-year anniversary, Docsis! What follows is a brief look at the many ups, and even a few downs, the sector passed on its way to reaching this historic milestone.

March 1999 – CableLabs awards Cisco with the first Docsis CMTS qualification. Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) and Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo: 6502) are first to gain Docsis 1.0 certification.

April 1999 – CableLabs issues Docsis 1.1, specs that support QoS and put cable on a path toward VoIP services.

Late 1999 / early 2000 – CableLabs tells Terayon Communication Systems to “cease and desist” claims that its S-CDMA technology will be included in an erroneous spec called Docsis 1.2. Terayon is later racked by lawsuits over those claims. S-CMDA is later incorporated into Docsis 2.0.

September 2000 – ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT) buys CMTS startup Broadband Access Systems (BAS) in an eye-popping stock deal valued at $2.25 billion at the time. In 2004, ADC will sell its IP Cable division to BigBand for a mere fraction of that. (See BigBand Buys ADC’s IP Cable Unit.)

December 2000 – More than 100 Docsis 1.0 cable devices certified by CableLabs.

Mid-2001 – 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS), one of the “name” vendors in the Docsis biz, gets out as product margins continue to shrink.

July 2001 – Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) nabs CMTS maker RiverDelta Networks for $300 million.

August 2001 – CableLabs says it will develop Docsis 2.0, a spec that uses advanced physical layer modulations to beef up cable’s shared upstream path to 30 Mbit/s.

September 2001 – CableLabs awards first Docsis 1.1 approvals. Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) and Toshiba come away with modem certification status, while Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Cadant Inc. (now part of Arris) are first to gain Docsis 1.1 qualification.

November 2001 – Despite earlier high hopes, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) bugs out of the Docsis sector, selling that piece of the biz to Aastra Technologies Ltd.

November 2001 – Arris buys closely held CMTS vendor Cadant Inc. for $64.2 million. The valuation placed on the ADC-BAS deal is now just a bittersweet memory from the dotcom bubble.

January 2002 – CableLabs completes Docsis 2.0 specifications.

December 2002 – Modems from Motorola, Scientific Atlanta (now part of Cisco), Terayon, TI, and Xrosstech Inc. are first to win Docsis 2.0 certification. Terayon CMTS is first to win 2.0 qualification, but history will show that it’s not enough to keep Terayon in the business.

September 2003 – Com21 Inc., once a promising Docsis startup, closes shop.

June 2004 – At media event in New York City, CableLabs unveils plans for Docsis 3.0, a new spec that will support IPv6 and use channel bonding techniques to achieve speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s. Before broadband video becomes all the rage, Mikey-like pundits (like me, for instance) wonder who the hell would need 100 Mbit/s.

April 2004 – CableLabs certifies first CableHome 1.1 equipment, giving MSOs visibility into home networks and the ability to manage them. Save for Linksys, the world yawns.

May 2004 – Despite being a top-five supplier, Toshiba bolts from the Docsis modem business. October 2004 – Terayon scuttles CMTS investment as it becomes clear that MSOs are happy to buy cheap 2.0 modems but not so interested in enabling 2.0 in the network. Four months later, Terayon gets out of Docsis for good by selling its cable modem silicon intellectual property to ATI.

December 2004 – CableLabs polishes off the first Docsis Set-Top Gateway (DSG) Certification Wave. DSG creates a Docsis-based signaling path for set-tops, including models based on tru2way .

August 2006 – CableLabs issues Docsis 3.0 specs, which call for equipment to bond a minimum of four upstream and downstream channels.

December 2006 – CableLabs and EuroCableLabs issue RFI for Docsis 3.0 devices.

April 2007 – To spur adoption and deployment of Docsis 3.0, CableLabs introduces “tiered” testing program for CMTS gear, allowing vendors to apply for “Bronze,” “Silver,” or “Full” qualification levels. (See CableLabs Accelerates Docsis 3.0 Testing .)

October 2007 – BigBand “retires” the Cuda CMTS, a product line it acquired from ADC. (See BigBand Terminates CMTS.)

December 2007 – CableLabs bestows qualification to first trio of Docsis 3.0 CMTSs. Casa gets Silver, while Arris and Cisco come away with Bronze. (See Cisco, Arris & Casa Make the CableLabs Grade.)

May 2008 – Modems from Ambit Broadband (now Ubee Interactive ), Arris, Cisco, SMC Networks Inc. , and Motorola (two models) are first to win Docsis 3.0 certification. (See Modems, CMTSs Break Docsis 3.0 Barrier .)

June 2008 – Japan’s Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (J:COM) announces intention to have Docsis 3.0 deployed across the board later that summer. (See J:COM Does Docsis 3.0 All Over.)

September 2008 – TI unveils modem silicon that can bond up to eight channels and support IPTV services in wideband-optimized cable set-tops/gateways. (See TI Flexes Docsis 3.0 Muscle .)

October 2008 – Comcast enters the wideband era by unleashing a 50 Mbit/s downstream service in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era .)

December 2008 – Casa’s C10200 becomes first CMTS chassis to gain Full Docsis 3.0 qualification. (See CableLabs Cheers Casa Chassis.)

January 2009 – Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) enters the Docsis 3.0 chipset fray, declares that a sub-$50 Docsis 3.0 modem is in cable’s near-term future. Eyes roll. (See Broadcom: Sub-$50 Docsis 3.0 Modem in Sight .)

February 2009 – Comcast sets goal to wire up to 65 percent of its footprint by year’s end 2009. MSO expects to complete the job by the end of 2010. (See Comcast Sets Wideband Goal .)

February 2009 – Shaw Communications Inc. becomes the first North American MSO to use Docsis 3.0 to deliver speeds of 100 Mbit/s. (See Shaw Breaks 100-Meg Barrier.)

Two minutes ago – Industry starting to think about the needs required beyond Docsis 3.0 (Docsis 4.0?). There are no official specs yet, but there are thoughts circulating about how the so-called “Docsis management plane” can be adapted to fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) architectures.

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