BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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60 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2014 TECHNOLOGY Next Steps in Cable Broadband Evolution Increasing demands for broadband – especially upstream broadband – will require cable operators to continue upgrading their networks and ultimately migrate their hybrid fber-coaxial networks to fber. By John Richard "Ric" Johnsen / CommScope Inc. T oday, most multiple system operators (MSOs), as well as other broadband operators that began as video providers, rely predominantly on hybrid fber-coax (HFC) infrastructure that consists of 6 MHz video and data quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) channels operating in the frequency spectrum between 5 MHz and 750 or 860 MHz. Tese operators also provide Ethernet business and wireless backhaul services through Metro Ethernet point-to-point (P2P) or passive optical network (PON) solutions that use separate fbers from HFC networks. Over the past several years, operators have efectively reclaimed available spectrum by converting to all-digital video lineups and using switched digital video (SDV). SDV allows operators to share QAM channels among long- tail programs based on demand. Despite these changes, consumers' growing appetite for bandwidth is starting to stress the operators' networks beyond their current capabilities. Te emergence of over-the-top (OTT) video services such as YouTube, Hulu and Netfix, combined with the proliferation of connected mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs), is creating a surge in data demand. Operators understand that they must meet this demand and that the only way to provide the necessary bandwidth is by evolving their networks. Current networks still have substantial bandwidth headroom; however, if operators plan to stay competitive and support future growth, they must devise plans to evolve their networks to converged optical platforms that deliver Ethernet/IP-based services. Unlike twisted- pair access networks, coaxial infrastructure can support long-term evolution to converged optical networks with technology changes that grow capacity in line with customer demand. HOW CABLE NETWORKS MUST CHANGE Network evolution will vary from operator to operator based on available capex, competition and the current state of the network; however, at least four key network changes will be needed over the next fve years. Fiber will migrate deeper into networks. Today, operators normally serve between 250 and 1,000 homes per HFC node. Tis creates congestion and oversubscription during peak demand periods. To improve speed and capacity during peak periods, operators must continue to split nodes and create smaller service groups that range from 64 to 250 homes. Node splitting will be based on actual usage, especially by those subscribers who generate higher bandwidth consumption. Headends will converge. Operators must make their networks and network management BBC_May14.indd 60 5/29/14 9:19 AM