Harmonic was awarded a patent for its CableOS virtualized converged cable access platform (vCCAP) technology. The patent describes virtualization of the traditionally hardware-based CCAP that is at the heart of modern cable broadband networks.
Many cable operators are in the process of replacing their old cable modem termination systems (CMTS) with CCAP. However, CCAP was originally conceived as another (large) piece of hardware. A virtual CCAP takes the technology to the next level with the goal of modular pieces and parts that can be virtualized and run on generic hardware.
Earlier this year, Harmonic garnered its first commercial deployment of its CableOS vCCAP with the Swedish cable operator Com Hem.
“Our CableOS solution is rapidly gaining momentum in the market, reflecting that leading cable operators are becoming convinced of the advantages offered by virtualization,” said Harmonic’s CEO Patrick Harshman, in a statement.
The company’s CableOS platform also includes an end-to-end remote PHY system to support both centralized and distributed access architectures.
Harmonic also announced its Q2 2018 earnings results yesterday, telling investors it now has 400,000 cable modems operating in the field with its CableOS. That’s an increase from 200,000 last quarter and 100,000 in Q4 2017. However, “they took the mid-point of full-year CableOS guidance down from $100 million to $97 million,” writes Jefferies analyst George Notter in a research note. “From our perspective, it’s not a drastic cut. The long-term competitiveness of the solution remains the key variable for the business. It remains too soon to definitively call their success here. We remain in ‘show-me’ mode regarding CableOS.”
Cable Crawls Toward Virtualization
The cable industry doesn’t seem at all concerned about taking its sweet time virtualizing its networks.
At the SCTE-ISBE Cable-Tec Expo show last September, one cable executive said the transition from monolithic devices in the cable headend to a distributed, virtualized architecture will follow a progression that could take a decade.
“CCAP is a short-term money maker,” he said. “Short term in cable terminology is 10 years. CCAP lets us make an investment today and realize revenue for a long time. Because of its inherent modular nature we can break pieces out and start virtualizing pieces.”
One of the leaders in virtualizing the cable network, Nokia, would agree that CCAP isn’t the long game. Nokia got an early lead in cable network virtualization via its purchase of Gainspeed in 2016. Gainspeed effectively pioneered the virtual CCAP proposition, according to analyst Erik Keith with Global Telecom, Technology and Software. “Its initial marketing campaigns targeted the ‘Big Iron’ cable headend vendors Arris, Cisco, and even relative newcomer Casa Systems,” writes Keith.
Nokia showed off its Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) at the SCTE-ISBE Cable-Tec Expo last September. Jeff White, Nokia’s head of cable strategy and business development, who was also one of the founders of Gainspeed, said Nokia never sold a CCAP box to begin with. Therefore it has no vested interest in protecting that business. “With Nokia’s DAA, there is no need for a CCAP box at the headend,” said White.