The Generic Access Platform (2019)

By Roger G Stafford, Charter Communications, Inc.

Simply stated, the Generic Access Platform is an outdoor housing enclosure that can be built in a number of ways to address multiple applications.

When a Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) was being discussed as a new approach to the way Cable and Telecommunications operators could redistribute the new components of either purely optical or Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial (HFC) networks it became apparent that DAA would lead to a much greater number of network access devices being placed in the outside plant portion of the access network. Since most outdoor components are strand mounted or pedestal mounted within the United States and cabinet mounted in many other parts of the world, this in turn leads to a greater diversity of equipment vendors producing and deploying a variety of different types of equipment. Today, MSOs deploy strand-mounted amplifiers, numbering tens of millions, but these are limited to just a few vendor designs. DAA introduces the concept of remote physical layer nodes to convert deeper penetrated digital fiber into HFC radio frequency spectrum, closer to customer’s homes than previous network design and deployment approaches.

Additionally, the GAP housing can be used for other applications beyond just an RF node. It is also intended to standardize the housing design for other outdoor equipment; 4G & 5G Small-Cells radios, Wi-Fi Access Points, remote OLTs and ONUs to support EPON and GPON networks, Edge-Compute Nodes and other smart-city applications such as IoT radios, traffic-light and pedestrian monitoring, and smart-sensing, as shown in Figure 1. In fact, the GAP housing can be used to accommodate multiple functions in the same housing (considering some thermal and power constraints) such as being an RPD with an IoT radio included for example. This greatly reduces the need for multiple node housing on the same coaxial strand.

There has been a progression from simple HFC amplifiers to a myriad of network-edge applications, combined with an increase in the available bandwidth across a network. Many techniques for increasing bandwidth, such as node-splits, also requires additional components that need to be housed outdoor.

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