June 04, 2018

CABLE DOCSIS 3.1: Q&A with Simon Riot, Cable Gateway Product Manager

DOCSIS 3.1 has become a reality that cable operators must take into consideration to cope with new consumer appetite for premium content experiences, to compete with fiber, and also to improve their operational efficiency. In this Q&A, Simon Riot - Cable Gateway Product Manager - answers key questions that demonstrate how the Technicolor DOCSIS 3.1 product range assists with overcoming challenges that come with this technology change.

simon150x150.jpgSimon Riot - Cable Gateway Product Manager

What are the main advantages and improvements of DOCSIS 3.1 compared to DOCSIS 3.0?

The first advantage is the access speed as DOCSIS 3.1 can now offer 10Gbps in a downstream direction and more than 1Gbps in an upstream direction. It also provides new tools to help NSPs better manage their network. For example, troubleshooting tools, such as proactive network maintenance, results in faster and more accurate diagnoses of problems, faster repairs, happier customers and lower costs. DOCSIS 3.1 home gateways also embed an upstream and downstream spectrum analyzer, a downstream history of what happened in the network at low level, a new OFDM constellation measurement, and upstream pre-equalization report.

In fact, speed combined with these additional tools allow for a renewed quality of experience for when using with 4K video streaming, live OTT content, online gaming with ever increasing resolution graphics and responsiveness needs, IoT, virtual reality experiences, etc.


With all of these big improvements, can you describe the main DOCSIS 3.1 platforms that are the basis of Technicolor’s product range?

Our product roadmap covers different markets worldwide. Our first product - the TC4400 - was launched in 2015 and, at that time, was the first D3.1 cable modem certified by CableLabs. It is a big success and we still include it in our product portfolio as an entry point for operators who wants to strictly control their costs. It does not have Wi-Fi capability or VoIP, but it features 2 Gb ethernet ports and a switchable diplexer. This allows for more flexibility because one can choose either 42, 85, or 204 Mhz in the upstream bandwidth, helping services providers make a smooth transition from DOCSIS 3.0.

We also have launched the CGA4233, our third generation D3.1 gateway. Based on our experience with the previous generation it has been fully optimized in terms of thermal regulation, energy management, external dimensions, Wi-Fi antenna design and performances. Today this is our most successful cable gateway for the EMEA, LATAM and APAC regions. There is an equivalent for NAM, the CGA4234, which includes MoCA 2.0. Both are based on a Broadcom chipset, with 3x3 Wi-Fi in 2.4 Ghz and 4x4 in 5Ghz.

Finally, we have the CGA4131, which is a business gateway router. It has 8 VoIP lines, and 8 ethernet ports. It features Wi-Fi 2x2 in 2.4 Ghz and 4x4 in 5 Ghz, a switchable diplexer, MoCA and a battery backup.


Each cable operator has its own requirements, so how does Technicolor manage product customization?

Last year we produced more than 7M DOCSIS cable gateways and this required specific product customization.  In fact, our products are fully customized according to our customers’ needs. We can customize even more with DOCSIS3.1. With D3.0 products, most of the software was developed by the chipset vendor. With the new architecture of D3.1, the chipset vendor still provides the Wi-Fi, DOCSIS and EMTA hardware drivers. However, for the router part we can choose between different software stacks. As fathers of RDK-B and due to cable operators moving to RDK-B software ecosystem and our continuous involvement in the RDK community, we made the decision to only use RDK-B open source for all our products, to which we are adding new components such as our responsive web GUI. We are also adding multicast ABR, the legacy DS lite, MAP-T, home automation protocols such as Zigbee, Zwave, and other integration components that allow our customers deploy value added services for their end-users. RDK-B also allows us to be very flexible and to go much deeper in product customization.


How do you ensure a seamless distribution of premium content across the different connected home screens?

Today people want no wires, so delivering premium video to all screens means having a very strong and reliable Home Wi-Fi network. We know Wi-Fi is one of the major sources of issues when people get in touch with their NSP’s call center. Over the years we have built a very solid team of experts in antenna design, being able to prove the highest performance even with complex product shapes or materials.  We also have different test houses where we can test all our products against the competition and retail products. We also use 3rd party test companies to derive independent results, in other conditions, using other tools, and so far Technicolor is well known to have the best performance on the market.

We are also working hard to bring added value Wi-Fi features such as 160 Mhz in 5Ghz, the ZeroWaitDFS, beamforming, multi-user MiMo, band steering, intelligent air time scheduling able to manage the bandwidth allocation between the primary SSID and the hotspots SSID.

And of course we are already well advanced in implementing the next generation 11ax Wi-Fi, with 4x4 in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.


As you have stated, reliable wireless and higher speeds allow for a larger distribution of premium content. What about security?

Today security is very important for service providers. Modem cloning, Wi-Fi key exposures have not helped operators’ reputation in the past. This is why we decided to implement full security in our DOCSIS 3.1 products. Because we have 30+ years of setup best security experience, we were able to leverage the set-top box security methods into DOCSIS 3.1. All of our products include a secured bootloader and we have our own and third-party security labs assessing our products. Our customers do the same in their lab, and all the feedback that we’ve received up to now is that our products are perfectly secure.


As you have explained, DOCSIS 3.1 means much more than just higher speeds. It is a complex move in terms of implementation of new services, and choices to be made to get the right product feature set. How does Technicolor help operators manage this transition operationally?

We believe in long term partnerships, and we know cable operators need trusted partners because of the investments being made in their infrastructure. Therefore we have deployed a world-class support team in each country where our customers operate to proactively work with them on a daily basis. We think it is important to be integrated within their workflow without any latency due to different time zones, without being slowed down by other projects with other customers. Our organization, from program to software development, is per customer, so we can make sure our products are in line with their strategy and offer the best quality of experience for their end-users.


Join Technicolor at the upcoming events to learn more about DOCSIS3.1 technology and preview available products: ANGACOM 2018, Cable Tech Show in Japan and the CableLabs Summer Conference in Colorado.