When DOCSIS 3.0 certifications and qualifications kicked into full gear a couple years back, one of the big tests for CMTS companies was how they got rated in the CableLabs tiered qualification system. There were bronze, silver, and gold levels, and the key to achieving silver was to prove upstream channel bonding capabilities. Fast forward to today, and the grading system is virtually forgotten. Upstream channel bonding? The early deployments don’t amount to much. Turns out it wasn’t enough just to prove you could do it in a lab. The real-world environment has shown you have to have the right platform underneath the technology to bring any kind of value to the upstream equation.
Here’s where we are now. The original upstream channel bonding trials failed because the solutions used were based on ten-year-old DOCSIS 2.0 silicon technology. Only with a high-density CMTS card does channel bonding actually work. And for practical purposes, it’s got to come as part of an integrated CMTS architecture rather than a modular one. As one Motorolan put it to me yesterday, the BSR 64000 RX48 is the only integrated CMTS blade available that is capable of future proofing the HFC network for the next decade. It’s got the density required, and it’s ready for the hockey stick pattern of upstream demand that we’re likely to see in the next one to two years.
So what ever happened to the silver-level CMTS? It no longer matters. The real upstream channel bonding action is ahead in 2011.