The payoffs for combining cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) and edge QAMs on the Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) are obvious to the most casual observer, but there are some operational procedures and training that need to be in place in order to reap the benefits of the new CCAP platform.

The session “CCAP trial: The verdict” addressed some of the issues that cable operators need to be aware of when deploying CCAP, as well as a rundown of Comcast’s CCAP trial that started last year.

“It's not just about dropping in another box,” said Jorge Salinger, Comcast’s vice president of access architecture. “It’s a different beast to manage and deploy. It’s a different ballgame when all of your revenue is running through one box. You have to be careful.”

Salinger said Comcast’s trial was all about operational readiness. The trial used equipment that wasn’t fully CCAP-compliant, since that type of equipment hasn’t become available until this year, but it gave Comcast the opportunity to see what kinds of tools, including traps and alarms, were needed in the CCAP environment.

Salinger said CCAP would be “massively deployed” next year, but there’s still work to be done around creating a foundation for CCAP. From an organizational standpoint, Salinger said training needs to occur between the DOCSIS and video groups that previously operated separately prior to CCAP. Training should start at the engineering level to create a pyramid of learning from a smaller group to a larger group, Salinger said.

From an equipment standpoint, cable operators may not be ready to jump in with both feet on a full CCAP rollout of equipment, but cable operators can still take advantage of the CCAP-enabled edge QAM capabilities as they expand their narrowcast services. According to Salinger, this approach doesn’t “strand the investment” in the short term, and it allows cable operators to migrate to full CCAP at a later date.

CCAP also provides an easy transition from one technology to another. When DOCSIS 3.1 lifts off, cable operators won’t need to make any hardware changes; they’ll just need to swap out line cards.

On the tools front, Applied Broadband CEO Jason Schnitzer spoke about DCE, which is a system he developed with Comcast. DCE is an XML-based protocol for configuration management in CCAP. DCE provides a modeling environment with a device configuration emulator.

Motorola Mobility’s John Holobinko, vice president of strategy and business development, spoke about service group alignments for CCAP. Holobinko said cable operators need to plan for the alignment of video and data service groups, which differ in size. With CCAP and edge QAMs providing a new level of economics, old methods, such as QAM striping, are no longer viable, according to Holobinko.