Increasingly optical network technologies are being evaluated for their suitability as a residential access network platform. Clearly optical networking holds promise for the distant future as networked applications evolve to demand greater transport capabilities. However, today and for years to come HFC based access systems with their low cost structures and evolving performances will remain the dominant access network of choice for delivery of interactive multimedia services in the majority of the served residential markets. In a contemporary context it is quite likely that an all-optical access platform could be best utilized as a strategic tool tailored to delivering high-value business class services to 10% or less of a residential serving area. A low first cost optical access network may be an ideal strategic/offensive overlay to an existing or new HFC network.
This paper explores the key applications engineering issues associated with such an overlay and proposes a methodology for synchronizing key optical access and HFC network elements. The paper concludes with a detailed analysis of how optical split ratios and cable sheath fiber counts can impact plant first costs. This work is focused on the engineering issues associated with layer 1, physical layer, of the 7-layer OSI network model. Commentary on upper layer requirements and protocols are limited to issues that impact the logistics of an overlay deployment and subscriber provisioning.