@ The Cable Show: HFC still has long legs

Wed, 06/15/2011 - 8:25am
Mike Robuck

There are many methods for expanding the lifespan of HFC networks, but cable operators need to do their due diligence to find the one with the right fit for them.

Tuesday's "HFC-ing the light: Advancements in next-gen network architecture" ran the gamut on some of the best ways to extend HFC networks.

Robert Howald from the CTO office of Motorola Mobility said Web 2.0 usage, which includes more interactive posting and sharing of media, is pushing the capacity envelope, and cable operators need to plan ahead to keep up with the compound annual growth rates.

"If you do deploy S-CDMA and 250 homes passed in the node split, you're probably pretty good for the rest of the decade," Howald said. "S-CDMA shifts the worry window."

Howald said cable needs to engineer support for social media, gaming and "granny cams" now, as well as security, health and medical, and smart grid applications in the future.

While examining various splits, Howald said that an end split is low risk, is not an interim solution and buys cable operators a lot of time.

"All signs suggest a long and happy life for coax development," Howald concluded.

Mike Emmendorfer, senior director of solution architecture and strategy at Arris, spoke about the next-generation access layer that will eventually get cable operators to an all-IP network.

"A key challenge the cable industry faces in the future will be offering PON-like, IP-based capacity in the downstream and the upstream while leveraging existing coaxial networks," he said.

The goals of the next-gen architecture include increasing upstream and downstream capacity, while also providing flexibility so that there's a smooth transition to IP networks.

Emmendorfer said a drop in upgrade was a good starting point. For a top split in the 900-1050 range with 500 homes on a service group, Emmendorfer said a drop in upgrade was "doable."

Jorge Salinger, vice president of access architecture for Comcast, said cable operators would probably need more downstream capacity before adding additional upstream capacity. The deployment of IP-based video services will have an impact on downstream capacity.

"The deployment of IP-based video will have to coexist with legacy video for a very long time," Salinger said. "I'm advocating using the spectrum in an overlay manner. It leaves the legacy services and CPE untouched in both the field and in the home. I think leaving the legacy infrastructure untouched is a very important thing."

Salinger said cable operators could continue to split nodes, but they need more peak capacity, which could be served up via a fiber overlay.



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