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Distributed Access Architecture (DAA)

Video and Data capabilities for distributed network evolution

Bandwidth usage continues to grow year-on-year, a trend driven by consumer video consumption from Internet video services. Service Providers are looking to extend their service offerings to deliver IP video, 4K video, and business services. Meeting network demand, along with practical constraints in their network operations including physical space, power consumption and cooling in head-end locations, is driving the evolution of the network.

Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) enables the evolution of cable networks by decentralizing and virtualizing headend and network functions. DAA extends the digital portion of the head-end or hub domain out to the fiber optic node and places the digital to RF interface at the optical-coax boundary in the node. Replacing the analog optics from the head-end converts the fiber link to a digital fiber Ethernet link, increasing the available bandwidth improving fiber efficiencies (wavelengths and distance), and directional alignment with NFV/SDN/FTTx systems of the future.

HFC networks are defined by analog fiber plumbing. DAA replaces analog fiber with IP connections (digital fiber) and creates a software-defined network that supports:

  • Node evolution with Remote PHY and Remote MAC-PHY
  • Transition to digital optics removing analog lasers
  • Digital fiber closer to the subscriber's home
  • Migration to centralized data centers
  • Flexible advertising, channel lineups and bandwidth management
Distributed Access Architecture - DAA

Advantages of a DAA approach

  • Network efficiency
    • Increased network capacity and simpler outside plant maintenance
    • Node evolution with Remote PHY, Remote MAC-PHY and Remote 10G EPON OLT
    • Better end-of-line signal quality, higher modulation rates, higher bit-rates
    • Better spectral efficiency, more wavelengths per fiber
  • Operational and capital expenditure benefits
    • Reduced headend power, space and cooling requirements
    • Hub consolidation
    • Add QAMs without changing the RF combining network
    • Digital fiber “set and forget”
  • IP convergence
    • Extend IP network to the node
    • Alignment with FTTx build-out
    • Ability to leverage standards-based interconnectivity and economies of scale

For Service Providers, the resources to run additional fiber, implement node splits and upgrade head-end facilities require significant investment. DAA can be implemented gradually with normal plant and service upgrades and without disrupting legacy services.

With a long-term commitment to the cable industry, ARRIS has more than 20 years of experience and ongoing development and support in the delivery of broadband and video services:

  • High Speed Data
  • CMTS
  • HFC infrastructure
  • Video infrastructure
  • CPE (cable modems, set-tops, gateways)
  • FTTx transition
  • Back office support
  • Operational services

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In the data core, Service Providers need increased head-end bandwidth capacity from their integrated CCAP platforms, with the capability to scale services as they grow. They want the flexibility to support HFC, DAA and PON, all while optimizing the investment in their installed base of network hardware and services.

The ARRIS E6000® Converged Edge Router (CER) is a flexible platform for integrated CCAP and distributed architectures which offers Service Providers the ability to optimize resources through:

  • Single platform for I-CCAP, CCAP core for DAA and PON
  • Increased service group density and power efficiency with CCAP core
  • Industry leading data throughput capacity
  • Flexible upgrade licensing model preserves existing CAPEX investment in E6000 CER

At the access edge, meeting subscriber bandwidth demand inevitably requires node splits, driving fiber deeper into the network.

  • Increase spectrum to 1.2GHz, move mid-split
  • Move digital optics to the node
  • Reduce number of homes passed per node
  • Increase the number of lambdas per node

E6000 Converged Edge Router

The ARRIS roadmap includes both Remote PHY and Remote MAC-PHY architectures as part of the access network evolution framework, which provides modular solutions for multiple network upgrade paths.

Remote PHY moves the physical RF modulation/demodulation layer from the CMTS to Remote PHY nodes or to a Remote PHY Shelf in a hub site. Removing the analog laser from the head end converts the fiber link to a digital Ethernet (fiber) link. The analog portion of the network is shorter and removes noise that could be introduced by long analog fiber runs, improving the RF performance and results in increased available bandwidth. In addition, more wavelengths can be supported on the fiber between the headend and fiber node.

Remote MAC-PHY is another distributed access architecture option, that moves the MAC (video and data) and PHY functionality to the remote node or shelf. Most signal processing and modulation occurs in the access network, not in the headend.

Both Remote PHY and Remote MAC-PHY have advantages. Remote PHY is an excellent way to serve smaller hubs and sparsely loaded nodes with less headend equipment and fewer changes to provisioning and management infrastructure, while Remote MAC-PHY is better suited to pinpoint deployments or nodes with long fiber runs. An additional benefit of Remote PHY is that CableLabs® specification activities enable standards-based, multi-vendor system integration.

ICX Optical Ethernet Switching

In a Remote PHY solution a Converged Interconnect Network (CIN) connects R-PHY Devices (RPDs) to the CCAP Core containing the MAC processing, such as the ARRIS E6000. It also interconnects the CCAP Core to the Video Core and management systems. The ICX family of switches provide robust, high performance optical ethernet switching, with the flexibility to evolve from simple single-layer networks suitable for small/medium sized deployments to highly scalable leaf-spine architectures.

ARRIS DAA solutions

  • E6000® Converged Edge Router eCORE (Gen2) for data services – an upgradeable platform supporting HFC, DAA and PON
  • Flexible node platforms with the ability to support evolution from HFC, DAA and PON
  • Video Unified Edge (VUE) virtualized Video Core and video headend software which supports all DAA modes and IP or MPEG-2 Transport Stream backbones
  • ICX optical Ethernet switches for Converged Interconnect Network (CIN) and Remote OLT aggregation
  • Orchestration , Intelligence and Management services and application solutions for system deployment, automation and performance
  • Planning and Modelling consulting, and Network Evolution Services
Example Remote-PHY Leaf-Spine Architecture
Example Remote PHY Leaf-Spine Architecture

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Along with the changes Service Providers are making to provide greater broadband capacity comes the need to address video distribution on their access networks. While subscribers continue to expand their demands for IP video, millions of subscribers continue to rely on traditional QAM video delivery.

Addressing this challenge falls to the Video Core, where video is prepared for delivery over the access network. This includes encryption, multiplexing, modulation and techniques to optimize bandwidth as video traverses the network.

The traditional Video Core focused on delivery of MPEG-2 Transport Streams via Edge QAMs for broadcast (with and without advertising) and narrowcast (VOD and SDV) services. Key functions include encryption, multiplexing, modulation, and two-way interactive communication with the set-tops.

To optimize traditional QAM video delivery, Switched Digital Video adds bandwidth optimization for MPEG-2 Transport Stream content by only delivering the less popular channels when subscribers in given Service Groups request them.

Characteristics of the traditional video core

  • Duplication of the video processing and delivery functions for MPEG-2 and IP-based video
  • Dual systems for advertising infrastructure on MPEG-2 and IP video
  • Ability to create dynamic localized ad zones and channel line-ups limited by analog HFC system design
Distributed Access Architecture - Traditional video core

Service Providers face many challenges that are driving dramatic changes in both the function and the design of the video core.

  • Supporting access network evolution
    Service Providers desire a unified video solution that spans all DAA architectures and future-proofs their network. As networks evolve to distributed architectures, modulation of the video to distribute over the physical coax moves to the nodes. The video core must adapt to this and look to virtualize functions that support video distribution via both Remote PHY and Remote MAC-PHY models.
  • Unifying the video backbone to IP Video
    Today there are parallel paths for video processing and delivery – HLS/DASH for IP video and MPEG-2 transport stream for multi-generational QAM set-tops. Not only is this model inefficient, but it prevents the QAM set-top footprint from leveraging the investment in new IP video processing and delivery services. By adding virtualized functions that enable a common IP-based Content Delivery Network (CDN) backbone architecture, the Video Core can reduce costs and increase new service velocity.
  • Bandwidth optimization
    As data usage continues to explode, video quality expectations continue to increase (HD, 4K, HDR, VR) and QAM video continues to represent a significant portion of the network spectrum for the foreseeable future, optimizing the bandwidth used for delivering video is crucial. In addition to video processing advances that reduce the bitrates required for video encoding, network-based approaches such as Switched Digital Video and Multicast ABR optimize existing network capacity for video applications.
  • Growing advertising opportunities on all screens
    Redundant paths also exist in the delivery of advertising across the QAM and IP footprints. In addition, there is a disparity in the cost and flexibility of the two advertising infrastructures. By enabling a unified IP-based approach to advertising across all subscriber devices, the next generation Video Core opens up new advertising models (targeted, impression based), while reducing cost.
  • Network Function Virtualization (NFV)
    The next generation video core must leverage advances in Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking, enabling the flexible deployment of key network services on commodity hardware, independent of the network architecture.

ARRIS Video Unified Edge (VUE) is a modular software product that virtualizes the video core (EQAM and video headend functions). The virtualization of these functions enables the migration to a data center model.

Applications for the Video Unified Edge

  • QAM video for DAA
    • VUE functions as the QAM video core in Remote PHY and Remote MAC-PHY solutions
    • VUE handles broadcast and narrowcast video streams to offload the data core
  • Converge the video backbone to ABR CDN
    • Transition all video content to the CDN as Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) content
    • VUE converts ABR to MPEG-2 transport to support existing installed QAM-based CPE
  • Enable a unified advertising strategy
    • Performs all ad insertion in ABR domain (eliminating the need for dual ad insert systems)
    • Software Defined Video Network enables programmable ad zones for targeted advertising

The future Video Core becomes a set of virtualized network services, supporting Distributed Access Architecture and unifying video processing and advertising around IP-based content. ARRIS VUE provides the QAM Video functions to support DAA and the transformation of IP content to MPEG-2 to unify the video backbone. Other functions of the Video Core focus on bandwidth optimization for MPEG-2 video (Switched Digital Video) and IP video (Multicast ABR).

Distributed Access Architecture - ARRIS Video Unified Edge

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The ARRIS Access Network Evolution Framework provides a modular approach which evolves with the network supported by consulting and network evolution services to optimize Service Providers network migration strategies, plans and subscriber needs.

This approach allows Service Providers to start with common core elements in each of the major system areas affected – video delivery, broadband data services and the access infrastructure enabling them to evolve as the Service Providers plans determine.

Network evolution is supported by suite of professional services, from modelling, planning, and consultative services to deployment, operations and management. As both the technology and the Service Provider's network infrastructure evolves, we envision configuration, deployment and management capabilities will be data center driven with functionality delivered as application containers and performance optimization and system orchestration built upon applied analytics.

ARRIS Access Network Evolution Framework

The ARRIS Access Network Evolution Framework provides a model to assess and determine access architectures and beyond:

  • Planning and modelling
    Understanding the present state of your network, both from a physical capability as well as current usage, applied intelligently to project growth models and developing a future-looking evolution plan.
  • Video core
    Balancing the desire to converge the video backbone to HTTP IP video while supporting the large installed base of QAM set tops which will evolve to IP set-tops or devices over time. Enabling virtualization, ARRIS can bring new services to both and allow for a common programmable targeted advertising solution.
  • Data core
    With a large investment already in DOCSIS CMTS, the upgradeable approach for the E6000 CER allows Service Providers to protect their existing investment, and with software licenses or hardware module upgrades gain greater system densities while migrating each CMTS as required to DAA based architectures.
  • Access edge
    With a large installed base of HFC nodes and the expectation of migrating to a Node+0 architecture in the future, Service Providers seek an optimized way to update and upgrade existing nodes as well as install new nodes. ARRIS has taken a modular approach to its node design which allow choice in the node functionality – HFC 1.2 GHz, Remote PHY, Remote MAC-PHY based upon network plans. This provides greater network evolution flexibility and optimizes both capital and operating expenditure.
  • Orchestration, Intelligence and Management systems
    With functionality being more distributed and increased virtualization of many of the video core, data core and access edge components, new solutions and services for operations and management are possible. By taking an API and virtualized application centric approach service providers can either interface to their existing systems or license a suite of applications from ARRIS.
  • Network Evolution Services
    Address all aspects of the network evolution of headend and outside plant equipment and systems. Working with provider's trained resources we can expedite and optimize the transitions, while minimizing disruptions and network downtime. We offer installation, commissioning and test integration services, we prepare complete operational playbooks to guide deployment and offer staff augmentation to help with completing the evolution efficiently to plan and ongoing operations. We can provide these capabilities across an extensive range on non-ARRIS products and assist in the integration of them into the framework.

The ARRIS Access Network Evolution Framework enables long-term bandwidth growth for next generation services. Building on the existing capabilities within Service Provider networks and providing a migratory path to greater service flexibility and velocity through distribution of head-end functionality to the access network and virtualization of video and data systems functionality.

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Solution Products

E6000 Converged Edge Router
E6000 Converged Edge Router
Flexible, Upgradeable CCAP™ for Integrated, DAA, and 10G EPON Deployments
E6000n Remote PHY
E6000n Remote PHY
Distributed Access Modules for DOCSIS® and QAM video
E6000r Remote PHY Shelf
E6000r Remote PHY Shelf
2RU shelf holding up to three Remote PHY Devices (RPDs)
ARRIS Video Unified Edge (VUE)
ARRIS Video Unified Edge (VUE)
Virtualized Video Headend for DAA and IP Video Convergence
NC2000 Series Optical Nodes
NC2000 Series Optical Nodes
1.2 GHz 1x1, 1x2 and 2x2 Segmentable Nodes - Fiber Deep or HFC
NC4000 Series Optical Nodes
NC4000 Series Optical Nodes
1.2 GHz 4x4 Segmentable Nodes - Fiber Deep or HFC
OM6000 Opti Max Optical Nodes
OM6000 Opti Max Optical Nodes
1.2 GHz 4x4 Segmentable Nodes - Fiber Deep or HFC
ICX IP Switches for DAA
ICX IP Switches for DAA
Ethernet switches for Remote PHY and Remote OLT CIN