Constructing a Convergence Lab: Lessons Learned From Building a Converged Network at CableLabs (2020)

By Matthew Schmitt, CableLabs

Cable operators are in the midst of deploying or preparing to deploy a variety of distributed access architecture (DAA) approaches. When this is done by aggregating multiple child nodes together onto a single point-to-point (P2P) coherent optics link, it has the effect of pushing very high capacity fiber-based Ethernet links deep into their networks. Beyond improving their DOCSIS®-based residential broadband services over coax, it also opens up numerous new business opportunities—such as mobile fronthaul and backhaul, business ethernet, remote passive optical networks (PON) and more—along with the ability to converge all of these different technologies onto a single network infrastructure.

CableLabs® has been working jointly with our members and technology vendors to develop the tools and technologies needed to make this vision a reality. However, while it’s one thing to develop the technology, it’s quite another to build devices based on it, and still another to integrate it together into a working whole. While CableLabs is not in a position to manufacture those devices, we are well positioned to bring them all together in a new network infrastructure convergence lab.

This convergence lab will allow us to demonstrate how these various technologies can be brought together to operate over a single physical network, showcasing the work that’s already been done, and learning the implications of operating them together. It will also create a platform on which to test out new technologies going forward to see how they integrate together into a converged whole.

This paper goes through some of the background on DAA and P2P coherent optics technology, reviews the process we went through to build the lab, any lessons learned thus far, and the current status of what is an ongoing process of continuing to grow and develop this lab.

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