Back in May when Motorola announced the new Modular embedded Multimedia Terminal Adapter (M-eMTA), I made a mental note to go back and study the product in more detail. DOCSIS 3.0 devices have grabbed a lot of the media attention, but the M-eMTA Motorola announced (currently DOCSIS 2.0-based) is interesting because it gives cable operators a path into commercial voice services.
As background, Motorola worked closely with one of its large cable operator customers to determine what issues MSOs face in digital voice deployments. Two concerns were at the top of the list. One, available wall space. And two, the ability to scale voice services incrementally (i.e. without spending for capacity before it can generate revenue). The first concern is a simple problem, if not a simple solution. The second concern is more complex. Specifically, there’s no known sweet spot for the number of phone lines an office or other multi-dwelling unit (MDU) might need. Cable operators want flexibility to expand the number of phone lines available as necessary.
The solution Motorola came up with looks an awful lot like a much smaller version of a CMTS chassis. It contains 12 slots, each of which fits a two-line or four-line blade. Like with the Motorola BSR 64000, the idea is to add new blades or cards as needed – protecting investment in the initial hardware and saving costs on unnecessary capacity. If an MDU only needs 12 or 16 voice lines to start, operators don’t have to pay for additional lines until they’re ready to be used. Ultimately the M-eMTA can house 48 phone lines – far more than any other eMTA – all in one individual box.
In talking to Motorola’s Chris Kohler, I learned that Motorola was scheduled to start field trials with the M-eMTA on July 1st (5-10 trials, North America and Asia), and that, as far as we know, Motorola’s product is the only modular eMTA on the market today.
Heavy Reading’s Alan Breznick is planning a major report on cable commercial voice in the near future. Keep an eye out for it. We’re just at the beginning of cable’s push into the commercial services market.