Companies that supply the technical components of HFC networks—like most corporate entities—are by nature ill equipped to cooperate with their competitors. Cable operators, on the other hand, want all these components to work together as much as possible. As a result, interoperability often means one thing for one company, and another thing for another. I repeated that to Cox Communications Director of Network Architecture Darryl Ladd recently and got this amused response: "That’s an understatement." So MSOs press ahead. Comcast SVP Network Engineering John Leddy tells us the working groups within the Comcast Open Transport Initiative have so far been focused on 10Gig LAN PHY. And up ahead lies 40 Gig, as the article on page 20 would seem to indicate. At a certain point, and often abetted in this industry by third parties such CableLabs and the standards arm of the SCTE, companies find it in their self-interest to coalesce around common technologies. Thus the F-connector, as well as DOCSIS. Another source of creative tension is the relationship between standards and innovation. Leddy confirmed that Comcast is "aggressively working" with vendors on DOCSIS. 3.0, and adoption of that standard is all the more certain with volume purchase orders from Philadelphia. Yet after hearing out Oleh Sniezko, Aurora Networks CTO, on a strict cost comparison of dedicated throughput per customer over a passive optical networks against that provided through a CMTS, I asked him: So what’s the business case for DOCSIS 3.0? "I have no idea," he said. "We support DOCSIS. There’s not anything wrong with DOCSIS," he added. "It competes very well with DSL. It doesn’t compete well against PON." As for how strong PON will be as a large-scale competitor to cable in North America, that’s a billion-dollar question that consumers will be deciding as respective telco offerings advance. Jonathan Tombes Editor jtombes@accessintel.com

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