Evolving today's cable networks
The emergence of HFC, Digital TV and DOCSIS® require changes that are influencing the way we look at the network today. At its current growth rate, internet services will consume the entire capacity of today's HFC networks in a few short years. Faced with rising bandwidth requirements and increased competition, Service Providers need to evolve their access networks. But before they can begin, there are many things to consider.
Operational plant considerations
Before investing in any network upgrade projects or evolution, Service Providers will need to consider not only current and projected traffic within each Service Group, but also key operational plant elements, like:
- Head-end space/power
Supporting growth in number of Service Groups given current space and power constraints in their head-ends.
- Fiber utilization
Supporting more wavelengths on a fiber by moving to digital optics? For example, 40-80 for digital optics vs. 16-32 for analog optics.
- End-of-line signal quality
Improving plant robustness and bandwidth capacity (better spectral density) using node-based RF generation.
- Facility consolidation/FTTx alignment
Reducing the number of headends with longer fiber runs with digital optics. Planning for both DOCSIS® growth and FTTx plant migration.
- Set-and-forget operational simplification
Simplifying operational maintenance with digital optics instead of analog optics.
Delivering bandwidth for today and tomorrow
In order to facilitate the shift to IP, Service Providers will have to efficiently achieve large scale migration of QAM-based distribution technologies, to IP-based distribution technologies. By standardizing on IP, not only can Service Providers simplify their infrastructures, they can also take advantage of the lower costs offered by web based video services and CDNs as part of their video backbone distribution – all while meeting consumer demand for enhanced, multi-screen video.
The shift to IP also yields more flexibility when managing capacity for broadband data and gives Service Providers the ability to implement enhanced features like targeted advertising and blackout insertion, and encryption/digital rights management (DRM).
Simultaneously, the network needs to evolve in such a way that users of current platforms aren't left behind and continue to benefit from the introduction of new services. This means investment in IP solutions that can support existing QAM set-tops, while virtualizing the QAM infrastructure and enabling a smooth transition to an all-IP world.