Comcast deploys Cisco's new cBR-8 on path to 10 Gbps, SDN

CHICAGO--Cisco today unveiled its new cBR-8 Evolved Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) product, noting that Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is among the cable operators now deploying the box into its network.

cBR-8 Cisco

Cisco's cBR-8 platform. (Source: Cisco blog)

"Platforms like Cisco's cBR-8 will provide next-generation speed and capacity, enabling converged cable access architecture for multi-Gigabit services, increased scalability and improved operational efficiency to keep up with the unprecedented growth of broadband and IP video traffic," said Comcast's Kevin McElearney, a company senior vice president, in a release from Cisco.

Although McElearney didn't provide any further insight into Comcast's plans for Cisco's cBR-8, the product could allow Comcast provide faster Internet speeds to its customers. Cisco said Altice Group, a multinational cable and telecommunications company operating in France, Israel, Portugal and elsewhere, is also deploying the new cBR-8.

Cisco executives said that the company has devoted more than a year of work to building the cBR-8, and that it for months has been testing the product with multiple cable operators, which company executives declined to name. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Cisco's new cBR-8 can deliver both video programming and broadband access to customers concurrently, thereby saving cable operators space and money since they don't have to deploy multiple boxes to supply those services.

Indeed, Cisco boasted that its "hub-in-a-box" cBR-8 enables cable operators "to achieve savings that could exceed 40 percent of capital and operating expenses over five years, compared to other CCAP platforms." Cisco added that its cBR-8 can support speeds up to 10 Gbps, DOCSIS 3.1 and Software Defined Networking.

Importantly, Cisco said the cBR-8 is its "linchpin" for the company's multi-access strategy for the cable market, which includes PON, Wi-Fi, SDN and, ultimately, Network Function Virtualization (NFV), a technology that promises to remove proprietary hardware boxes and manage the majority of operators' network operations through software alone.

Cisco executives acknowledged that the cBR-8 represents the company's efforts to catch up in the cable market, where it has lost some share to rivals like Arris Group and Casa Systems. Citing data from IHS, the WSJ noted that Cisco's share of the cable service provider market dropped from 52 percent in 2013 to just 29 percent in 2014--losing its leading position to Arris, which commanded 48 percent market share last year, IHS said.

But John Chapman, CTO of Cisco's cable access business unit, said that the company leaned on sales of older products while waiting for more powerful chips to come to market that could power its new cBR-8. He said Cisco now expects to take back share from rivals like Arris with its new cBR-8 as cable operators look to make their networks more efficient and to provide faster Internet speeds to their customers.

For more:
- see this WSJ article
- see this Cisco release
- see these two Cisco blog posts

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