A Digital Solution for Cable Television Systems (1990)

By David Jordan, Product Manager, C-COR Electronics

Digital fiber optic systems have become a strong alternative to analog technology for high performance delivery of CATV signals throughout a cable plant. This paper reviews the performance and characteristics of a currently available digital system that does not use bandwidth compression.

Digital transmission has become the foundation of modern communications networks, and digital signal processing is now the dominant technology in television studio equipment. However, the strong advantages of digital transmission have been offset by a perception that the equipment occupies extensive rack space and expensive in typical multi-channel CATV applications.

Today there are digital systems that are competitive in price, size, and features with current FM analog fiber optic systems, and they are designed around an architecture for a long term "systems approach" to CATV signal distribution. Rather than being limited to an individual, point-to-point optical link that replaces a portion of a coax plant, today's digital system will evolve, in a compatible way, to extend fiber optics deeper and deeper into the plant without fear of signal degradation or equipment obsolescence.

Advances in high speed digital processing will offer the possibility of digital transmission to practically interface with other signal formats. Advances in high speed digital optical: components will allow significant increases in signal carrying capacity, without disrupting installed digital plants.

Research indicates the consensus among cable operators favors a long-term evolution toward a digital based architecture. Adopting a digital strategy today will further strengthen the future competitive position of cable operators who look beyond interim fiber optic solutions.

In this presentation I will briefly examine the basic building blocks of a typical digital transmission system and then present a case study. I will describe the Mountain View Cable System and outline the digital fiber optic equipment that could be installed in this system. Finally, I will summarize the presentation with a review of the advantages of digital fiber optics in a CATV application.

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