Business And Pleasure: Mixed Traffic Issues Drive Network Evolution (2003)

By Robert L. Howald, Ph.D., Motorola Broadband

he term “triple play” originally was meant simply to convey the convergence of video, voice, and data in the network. It once encompassed everything that was important to know about network functionality. However, over the years the lines have blurred and the elements of the triple play have been further fine-tuned and splintered into a variety of different items. All three parts of the triple play are multi-faceted, and all contain important variables necessary for proper bandwidth and traffic management. Video has multiple, possibly interrelated, faces: analog, digital, narrowcast, ondemand, IP, and HDTV. Data, which once essentially meant DOCSIS 1.0, now includes the ability to support tiered data services that include best effort Internet traffic, like that offered via DOCSIS 1.0, as well as guaranteed and mission critical business services. Even simple residential Internet access is becoming a more complicated offering. With VoIP still in the wings, ideas such as online gaming have leap-frogged into play as part of the residential data mix. With data just as with video, possibilities abound that involve bandwidth and traffic management in both the access, backbone, and interconnecting points in the network. Successful deployment of tiered, prioritized, and guaranteed services include understanding aspects of the access network, including higher versions of DOCSIS, as well as non-DOCSIS solutions and technologies behind the HFC access network. Proper treatment of data services to and from the access network is a critical component of bandwidth management when considering architecture design options. Finally, voice circuits and IP voice also have a role in the redefining of the meaning of triple play. This paper will analyze and characterize the traffic dynamics of the various service components above. Aggregation of these services in cases consistent with likely architectural scenarios will be discussed. Architecture and bandwidth conclusions will be drawn that align with the service and traffic mixes currently being offered. Finally, offerings such as gaming, security, and medical applications are some of the ideas among many potential services that have been mentioned recently. Their significance is magnified by the amount of highly interactive real-time voice and video needed to support them. The implications of such new service offerings will be discussed.

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