It goes without saying that the relentless customer demand for faster broadband speeds is a double-edged sword for cable operators. It keeps all of us in this industry employed, but at the same time presents challenges to the way that things have always been done to deliver this service to our customers. Our old tricks for getting more bandwidth from our plants are hitting their limits:

  • Can’t add more carriers, there is no more vacant spectrum even with analog reclamation
  • DOCSIS 3.1 gives us more bits/Hz from our plant, but not enough to meet demand
  • Node splits are getting too expensive and soon hubs won’t have the rack space or power/cooling to support them

Despite these challenges, node splits must continue at a nearly exponential rate to keep up with broadband demand. A key enabler for node splits all the way down to N+0 are distributed access architectures (DAA). As the name implies, these architectures take portions of what was previously in the hub/headend and distributes them out into the field. This frees up hub space/power/cooling, improves reach and stability of the optical link by implementing a digital link, and will be more economical than traditional node splits. Examples include Remote PHY, Remote MAC/PHY, and Remote CCAP. The bad news is that DAAs are disruptive to traditional maintenance practices and will cause headaches if not carefully planned for:

  • They remove RF test points from hubs used for traditional monitoring and sweep gear
  • Plants will become a heterogeneous mix of architectures/vendors during the 5-10 year rollout – lots of complexity for techs to manage

Fortunately, between CableLabs and the test vendor community, there are options to retain and even improve key maintenance capabilities and introduce exciting new ones. Come see our presentation on PNM and Enabling Technologies beyond DOCSIS 3.0 at ANGA COM on Thursday June 1 to learn more about these upcoming challenges and how you can best manage your way through them.

Be sure to visit our ANGA COM page to learn more, and don’t miss Viavi in Booth #7/B21 next week to learn how we work with major operators and vendors across the globe to assure quality gigabit service deployments with smarter solutions.

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