Making Room for DOCSIS 3.1 and EPoC – Is your cable plant ready for an OFDM world? (2013)

By Phil Miguelez, ARRIS

New standards are winding their way through CableLabs and IEEE that will eventually provide cable operators the ability to offer greatly increased data rate capacity to both residential and business customers.

DOCSIS® 3.1 and EPoC will usher in a new modulation format for cable MSO’s that will help to significantly close the current gap in digital capacity between FTTP and HFC service providers. A major challenge for the success of these next generation technologies is integrating new dedicated bandwidth segments into already constrained RF spectrum. This is particularly true for the upstream where the current 5 to 42 MHz channel allocation is already extremely limited.

Taking full advantage of the efficiencies related to OFDM transport without cannibalizing existing revenue generating RF spectrum will drive new requirements for expanded bandwidth optical and RF components. Although the initial deployment intent of DOCSIS® 3.1 is complete compatibility with the current 1 GHz RF bandwidth, many consider 1.2 GHz to be a logical end point that will maintain the full legacy HFC bandwidth as well as a new 200 MHz sub band for D3.1 or EPoC. Further expansion beyond 1.2 GHz is also a possible consideration for the future, allowing data rates up to 10 Gbps.

This paper will examine the impact of D3.1 and EPoC on current and future access plant components including headend lasers, nodes, and RF actives as well as taps and passives. Network design considerations, operating levels and system performance as the channel loading migrates to include OFDM will also be studied.

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