Release of New FMA Specs Opens Door for Interop Events

Release of New FMA Specs Opens Door for Interop Events

Jon Schnoor
Principal Architect, Wired Technologies

Jan 26, 2022

We are pleased to announce today’s issuance of new versions of the Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA) System and MAC Manager Interface (MMI) specifications. This release denotes the completion of phase one for the FMA specifications and opens the doors for beginning FMA interoperability events. Speaking of such events, we are also pleased to inform you that we have completed our first formal FMA interop.

Flexible MAC Architecture Industry Milestones

Both are important milestones for the cable industry. The completion of the first phase of the FMA project is the accumulation of specification work through the pandemic and defines the Remote MACPHY (R-MACPHY) technology. As a part of the larger Distributed CCAP Architecture (DCA) program, FMA is defining the complete disaggregation of a CCAP’s functionality. This includes separating the control and data planes and providing standard interfaces between OSS/NMS/Orchestration and the FMA management and control planes, as well as a standard interface abstraction layer to cable access equipment. All of which allows for vendor independence and equipment interoperability. While the Remote PHY specifications was the first step in CCAP disaggregation, by moving the PHY layer out of the big iron CCAP hardware, FMA is the next and final step of a fully disaggregated DOCSIS access network.

The DCA specifications are a cornerstone of the 10G Platform that will allow DOCSIS 4.0 technologies to support multi-gigabit symmetric speeds. Both DCA technologies have recently reached significant achievements. For FMA, Charter and Vecima demonstrated 8.5 Gbps downstream and 6 Gbps upstream speeds with their FMA implementation. Similarly, For R-PHY Comcast was able to demonstrate 4 Gbps symmetrical speeds with their DOOCSIS 4.0 implementation. Both are significant for the cable industry and a true realization of the technology being specified at CableLabs.

While this release wasn’t the first release of the FMA specification library, this third version of the issued specifications represent a maturity that allows the industry to begin building and testing interoperable products. As such, the week of January 10th was the realization of the first formal interoperability event for the FMA technology. The event had a total of 10 companies involved with five participating vendor companies and five cable operator observers. This was a tremendous turnout for the initial interoperability event. A significant set of accomplishments were hit at this first event which shows the maturity of products and the specification.

Upcoming FMA Activities

Moving forward, there are several activities within the FMA project on the foreseeable horizon. As previously mentioned, there are ongoing quarterly interoperability events in 2022 that allow vendors to test their products with other vendor products in a neutral environment. We have the ability to increase this cadence as needed. CableLabs also has the ability to support interop activities 24 hours per day, seven days a week with remote connections for the interoperability lab for those products that are installed in the lab. This is a very important activity for the industry that ultimately leads to operator deployment of the technology. CableLabs is also producing an FMA webinar on February 16th where we will share and discuss the “state of FMA,” including long-term FMA objectives, and future goals of the interoperability events.

If you would like to participate in the FMA working group activities, please make your request via workinggroups@cablelabs.com.