An Economic Analysis Of Brownfield Migration CTTH vs. FTTH (2016)

By Michael Emmendorfer, ARRIS

Cable service providers are interested in the network technology options and the economics to meet the highly competitive high-speed data and video delivery market needs. Many cable operators are facing fiber to the home (FTTH) competitors that are offering or capable of offering gigabit per second data services or higher. Many cable operators have determined that new build or greenfield areas, where coax to the home (CTTH) does not exist, will use FTTH. The majority of the cable network is brownfield, which already has Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) to the neighborhood and CTTH. Throughout the cable industry there is interest in understanding the options for the brownfield migration. Cable operators are wondering if they should continue investments in HFC and DOCSIS or forego the current brownfield coaxial network and build FTTH using passive optical network (PON) technologies.

This paper focuses on some of the network technologies choices and the economics of the brownfield migration. The paper expands the analysis that was published at the 2015 SCTE Cable Tech EXPO, which examined brownfield migration options for a specific set of network topology assumptions [EMM]. The SCTE paper examined systems that had high spectrum (750 MHz or higher), 75 homes per mile and one hundred percent aerial network topologies, though this is representative of some MSO deployments, like those found in suburban areas, there are many cable operators that have different network topologies. This paper addresses different brownfield migration networks like those found in urban areas. In urban areas for example, the cable operator will likely have much higher homes per mile, such as over 100 homes per mile, and have a mix of aerial and underground networks, these change the economics. The impacts of urban brownfield migrations may yield far different results than those found in typical suburban topologies. Typically, the approaches examined from brownfield migration are system wide build outs meaning that all customers in the serving area may have access to the upper tier services and capacity needs for the business. The paper will analyze another build out approach, called success based network builds. The success based approach does not build out high capacity networks across the entire serving area like the system wide approach, but rather is a targeted success based network build for addressing the competitive challenge of gigabit or multi-gigabit symmetrical service offering to residential consumers.

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