Traffic needs in service provider networks continues to grow rapidly. Although the cumulative average growth rate for per subscriber data consumption has somewhat abated, the competitive pressure has not, and there is a growing consensus among service providers that capacity planning for the future needs to begin now.
There are numerous drivers to current and future growth and among them are the rapid growth of IP delivered video services, backhaul of wireless services and the emergence of cloud connected devices such as surveillance cameras, machine to machine communication, health and wellness monitors and inter-autonomous vehicle communications. The exponential growth of these internet of things (IoT) types of devices, though each is a relatively small consumer of resources, will begin to emerge from the “noise floor” of network traffic consumers. As service providers look at their networks today, there is little argument that further increases in capacity are necessary in the near future.
Fortunately, there are pathways to additional capacity. Fiber to the premise solutions remain a viable and highly effective option, particularly so in green field environments, but our industry’s strategic asset has always been its existing coaxial infrastructure, and that remains our most readily accessible and cost effective path to higher capacity. Our hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks have grown in capacity over the years through an ongoing succession of bandwidth expansion, digital compression, serving group splits and multicast solutions. The roadmap to capacity expansion for HFC networks beyond 1,218 MHz is a multi-faceted challenge, but there are numerous companies in both the supplier and service provider communities who are collaborating to identify the challenges and develop solutions to address those challenges. This paper will explore the challenges without necessarily offering solutions for each. It is likely that SCTE-ISBE’s EXPO 2020 will have numerous presentations proposing solutions that will lead to the realization of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS®) 4.0 technology and applications that take advantage of spectrum beyond the proposed DOCSIS specification extension to 1,794 MHz.