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Cable industry works toward energy efficiency

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 6:53pm
Mike Robuck

MSOs are faced with an ever-increasing amount of equipment, consuming more power, which is running faster and hotter. The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has responded with a range of recommended practices and new standards.

Some elements of the SCTE’s Adaptive Power Systems Interface Specification (APSIS) will be completed this year, ahead of implementation over the next few years, according to Marty Davidson vice president, engineering and network operations, SCTE.

APSIS is an end-to-end energy control system across the broadband network. It will manage specific pieces of equipment, such as routers, switchers, and CMTSs, but also develop energy monitoring and control systems. Since APSIS touches everything on the network, Davidson said the standards would be completed on a rolling basis over the coming years.

One area of focus for APSIS would be to power down equipment, such as a router, set-top box or power plant, when it’s not in use. Depending on the conditions, the equipment could be put into “rest and sleep” mode instead of running at full power during non-peak times.

“We can pull energy-related information out of those devices and really look at creating an application layer,” Davidson said. “With that application layer, we can pull that information out and then send energy control messages down to those pieces of equipment that are associated with different business rules that are being driven by the operators. We’re taking a look at transaction-based energy control, turning the dial down a bit, and managing it more intelligently. We’re putting the finishing touches on the first draft of the specification.”

The SCTE is also in the process of replacing its SEMI (smart energy management initiative) with a much more inclusive energy management program. SEMI launched two years ago as the cable operator industry’s “green” initiative, but the new energy program, which will be announced later this year, will dramatically expand the SCTE’s energy efforts.

“SEMI was a great experience,” said John Hewitt, Alpha Technologies’ vice president, broadband sales and product management. “I got to meet some great people in the industry and really work on some great next gen products, but it only had a few MSOs participating, and within that we only had a few engineers that had a personal passion for it. SEMI was probably a few years ahead of its time, but we need to broaden the scope to have a more encompassing energy program.”

In addition to APSIS and the new energy program, Davidson said recently that the SCTE was about to go to ballot on test procedures associated with SCTE-186, a set of requirements that cover nearly every environmental aspect of video facilities, from enclosures to cooling fans to power ports, and more. Work is also underway for recycling, business continuity, disaster recovery and energy management initiatives.

Alpha Technologies is a prime player in both outside plant and critical facilities powering, but Hewitt said the hardening of the critical facilities has been the big-ticket item for his company.

“Hardening the critical facilities infrastructure has been the hottest area for MSOs,” Hewitt said. “The critical facilities side has seen double digit growth every year for the last five years, and we don’t see that stopping going forward five more years.”


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