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Cisco puts the puzzle pieces together

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:56am
Brian Santo

Cisco continues evolving its Service Provider architecture, riding a combination of DOCSIS, CCAP, and optical networking technologies to secure for cable operators more bandwidth and give them the abilities to provide higher service tiers and achieve greater agility in deploying new applications, even while lowering operational expenses.

In addition to new DOCSIS and optical networking capabilities, Cisco is applying software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualization technologies recently introduced in the Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP) to virtualize, integrate and automate cable operators’ access architecture.

The industry developed DOCSIS 3.1 with the expectation that upon initial deployment the technology would enable MSOs to accelerate broadband speeds to up to 1 Gbps. Further refinements to D3.1 are expected to further speed broadband to rates of 10 Gbps and perhaps even beyond.

Cisco said it is demonstrating enhancements to its uBR10012 CMTS here at the show that will enable MSOs to deploy 1Gbps tiers.

Cisco’s Terabit CCAP platform, the cBR-8, will leverage DOCSIS 3.1 to deliver 10Gbps access tiers, enabling MSOs to stay ahead of demand into the next decade. The company announced that the cBR-8 is now in trials with five MSO customers worldwide, which it declined to identify.

Cisco also intends to enable the scaling of access networks while leading the path to virtualizing CCAP. Cisco’s modular and integrated CCAP products enable consolidation of separate networks, saving space and power.

The company proposes to virtualize of elements of the CCAP platform by distributing DOCSIS remote PHYs away from the headend and into nodes. They would be connected to what Cisco is calling CCAP Cores, which may be implemented in hardware or in software and deployed in local data centers.

CCAP and virtualized CCAP products will work together to eliminate scaling concerns as they scale bandwidth without continuing to require more space and power in distributed hubs and headends.

Another proposed migration is integrating DOCSIS and xPON into the multi-service access network for business and residential customers. This would lead to an architecture that enables MSOs to address all customer segments via an integrated suite of access services, including DOCSIS, high speed FTTx, service provider Wi-Fi and gigabit services.

As for SDN, at The Cable Show, Cisco is demonstrating how to use its ESP to configure multiple devices in a single step.

Furthermore, cable operators manage residential, commercial and wholesale services via multiple autonomous systems. Cisco is applying its Evolved Service Platform to integrate and orchestrate these separate systems.

Cisco is also demonstrating how MSOs can use ESP to create and deliver virtualized applications, such as parental controls for consumers and end-to-end provisioning for business services.

The company calculates that using the virtualization capabilities of the Cisco ESP to deliver existing and new applications can reduce OpEX 65 percent and produce a revenue uplift of 15 percent for MSOs.

Joe Cozzolino, Cisco senior vice president, general manager, Service Provider Video Infrastructure, said, “When we launched the Cisco Service Provider architecture, our vision was to transform the network from simply supporting business and meeting bandwidth demands, to driving new service revenue opportunities for operators. By extending this vision to cable, Cisco is the first company to blueprint an actionable, five-year plan that addresses key challenges facing MSOs and outlines a clear roadmap for realizing existing and future capabilities.”

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