The Broadband Network Evolution Continues (2019)

By John Ulm & Tom Cloonan, CommScope

On January 7, 2019 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), NCTA – The Internet & Television Association®, CableLabs®, and Cable Europe® introduced the cable industry’s vision for delivering 10 gigabit networks, or 10G™ – a powerful, capital-efficient technology platform that will ramp up from the gigabits per second (Gbps) offerings of today to speeds of 10 Gbps and beyond – to consumers across the globe in the coming years.

10G is a goal, a lighthouse in the distance towards which all MSOs and vendors can use as a beacon in the night to steer their boats safely away from danger. It will take some time to get there. It is actually only a single point in a continuum of improvements that will occur in the future. It is not the end-point, it is an interim point. We will likely push on beyond that 10G point in the future. The focus of this paper is the migration needed over the next 7-10 years using existing technologies to achieve the 10G goals. Another paper [CLO_2019] takes a deeper look into the future with some potential new technologies to see where the industry might be in 15-25 years beyond 10G.

To reach the 10G goals might require an aggregate of last-hop technologies, including: HFC, DOCSIS, PON, and Wireless which are all likely candidate technologies. It turns out that 5th generation (5G) mobile and 10G HFC are quite complementary and will help one another. This is discussed further in [ULM_2019].

But in getting to 10G, what does it take for the DOCSIS/HFC system to actually deliver on the 10G Service Level Agreement (SLA) promise? Many MSOs do not really know what it takes to do 10 Gbps downstream, let alone 10 Gbps symmetrical.

The cable industry is going through unprecedented technology changes starting with the introduction of DOCSIS 3.1 (D3.1); then Distributed Access Architectures (DAA) such as Remote PHY (R-PHY); DOCSIS Full-Duplex (FDX); Low Latency DOCSIS (LLD) initiative; and now Extended Spectrum DOCSIs (ESD) efforts. These are all building blocks to help us reach Cable 10G. But what are the logistics to get on the right path?

This paper will discuss the importance of these technologies and address the following migration topics:

  • 10G network capacity planning
  • Outside plant considerations and logistics
  • CPE considerations

Cable 10G is an ambitious initiative, but it is in keeping with the broadband heritage to which we’ve grown accustomed. We can get there with the right roadmap

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