Radiofrequency amplifier shipments of more than 1 million were made in 2022, according to cable vendor CommScope. In a sector with billions in revenue and tens of millions of subscribers, that may not seem like much, but Dell’Oro Group VP Jeff Heynen said it’s probably one-and-a-half to two times what CommScope would ship in a typical year and is just a taste of what’s to come as DOCSIS 4.0 upgrade work starts to ramp up.
“That’s a significant jump over what you normally would see in a traditional year of just normal plant expansion and upgrades and usual replacements of failing amplifiers,” Heynen told Fierce. “We all know what Comcast and Charter’s plans are, but this must mean that there’s a ton of other work going on with respect to node splits and also operators upgrading from 850 [MHz] to 1.2 [GHz] without necessarily doing full duplex or extended-spectrum [DOCSIS 4.0]” in order to fend off competition from fiber providers and lay the groundwork for future upgrades.
CommScope didn’t break down its shipment total by region, and it won’t release its Q4 2022 earnings report until next week. However, if its reports for the year’s first three quarters are to be believed, the majority of those amplifiers most likely went to American clients. U.S. sales from Q1 to Q3 accounted for around 60% of CommScope’s quarterly revenue.
Given that the company stated in a release that it is “currently evolving” its product lines to support both the extended-spectrum and full duplex variants of DOCSIS 4.0, it is important to note that CommScope’s shipments don’t seem to have included any DOCSIS 4.0 amplifiers. A full duplex amp is currently being worked on, according to Craig Coogan, VP of Product and Strategy at CommScope, who spoke with Fierce in September.
Given that operators are increasingly switching to virtualized CCAPs, which is causing CommScope’s Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) business to stall, Heynen said the vendor’s announcement is likely motivated by a desire to position itself as a formidable competitor in the amplifier space ahead of a significant upgrade cycle. He did mention CommScope is already likely the largest amplifier provider in the world.
Heynen predicted that ATX and Teleste would compete with CommScope in the field of extended-spectrum. Its competitors in the full duplex market, however, are less obvious, and Heynen said it will be interesting to see who steps up as a rival in that market.
Heynen said, “I know this is a lot of amplifiers from one vendor, but I really believe we’re just at the beginning of this massive outside plant upgrade cycle for DOCSIS 4.0. This therefore only serves as a prelude to what is about to occur.