The Smart and Seamless Evolution of the HFC Network – Today and Beyond (2023)

By Gustavo Colly, ATX Networks

As consumer bandwidth requirements continue to grow, cable operators will need to intelligently and cost-efficiently expand network capacity to accommodate future increases in data traffic — especially upstream traffic. Migrating from CAA (Centralized Access Architecture) to DAA (Distributed Access Architecture) architectures, a strategy that most cable service providers are currently pursuing, provides a near-seamless and cost-effective transition. Reallocating spectrum through band splits and the adoption of DOCSIS® 4.0 will play important roles in that effort by taking advantage of the incredible resiliency of cable's HFC network. Depending on the status of the cable operator’s HFC network, dropping in RF amplifier modules to fiber nodes and trunk and distribution amplifiers in conjunction with new taps and passives could also provide cable operators with a seamless evolution of their networks. The ubiquity of coaxial connections makes the continued evolution of DOCSIS standards a logical and economical way to continue to bring world-class broadband services to millions of households. Coax is also capable of supporting current gigabit-class services by preserving/reusing most of the existing network infrastructure. The bottom line is that HFC networks can be competitive with symmetrical Gigabit services through DOCSIS 4.0 standards, which will allow the needed expansion of upstream capacity. This technical paper will highlight best practices and design criteria for managing the evolution of the HFC network, as well as detailing relevant market trends.

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