& cplSiteName &

Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch

Alan Breznick
1/24/2007
50%
50%

Shaking off two years of disbelief and dismay, the cable industry has finally started dealing with the prospect of an impending bandwidth shortage.

Cable operators and equipment suppliers, alarmed by an explosion in bandwidth use by cable subscribers over the last couple of years, are now drawing up plans to boost capacity at both the headend and plant levels. Instead of debating whether the coming bandwidth crisis is genuine, they're looking at ways to confront the crisis by splitting fiber nodes in half, converting systems over to more efficient switched digital video delivery, testing pre-Docsis 3.0 channel-bonding technologies, and expanding their systems' RF capacity to 860 MHz or 1 GHz.

Cable technology strategists are also looking at boosting their QAM power, instituting out-of-band spectrum overlays, and upgrading to MPEG-4 video compression standards. They're even weighing such previously unthinkable moves as building fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks and adopting PON architecture, just like some of the big phone companies.

"We know there's a need for more bandwidth," says Bob McIntyre, CTO of Scientific Atlanta . "We just have to decide how to do it."

At a conference sponsored by PK Worldmedia Inc. in Houston Tuesday, McIntyre and other cable engineers spelled out these measures to cope with the approaching bandwidth storm. The conference, held the day before the opening of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) 's annual Emerging Technologies show, found cable officials soberly agreeing that skyrocketing subscriber bandwidth consumption is threatening to overwhelm even their fattest broadband pipes.

"Bandwidth consumption is definitely increasing, and the average consumption rate is definitely increasing," said Patrick Knorr, general manager of Sunflower Broadband , a small, independent cable operator based in Lawrence, Kan. "It's definitely a real problem; there's definitely a storm coming."

Cable technologists blamed the new bandwidth crunch at least partly on the surge in high-definition TV (HDTV) sets and channels. They noted that HD programming demands three to four times as much bandwidth as standard digital TV channels, leaving relatively little room for other fare.

Conference speakers also noted that such prime cable rivals as DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) seem determined to outflank MSOs by offering several dozens or, in DirecTV's case, even hundreds of HD channels to their customers.

"Video is going to drive this thing and keep driving it," SA's McIntyre said. "We know we're going to have to compete."

In addition, panelists blamed the startling increase in Internet video use over the past couple of years. In particular, they focused on the sudden rise of YouTube Inc. , which now serves up 120 million video streams per day and draws more than 34 million unique users each month to its Website.

Jeff Binder, senior director of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), warned that the big broadcast networks may soon pose an even greater threat to the cable industry's video business model than YouTube. He cited CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS)'s plans to stream its primetime programs on the Web for no charge a day earlier than their first run on the TV network.

"It's not so much that everyone is rushing to the Web to watch TV but that content providers are shifting that way," he said. "Prepare your networks for the primetime on-demand wave."

Knorr, whose cable system serves a major college town, said he's already seeing early signs that younger consumers are opting for Internet video downloads over traditional cable video service. In Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas, 5,000 of the cable system's 40,000 subscribers only take high-speed data service. These subscribers account for a sizable 20 percent of the system's cable modem customers.

"Customers are using the Internet more hours per day," he said. "There's an absolute risk of people dropping basic video service for Internet video."

Cable engineers also attributed the swiftly expanding bandwidth needs to the growth of video on demand, digital video recorders, and other time-shifting techniques. For instance, Dom Stasi, CTO of TVN Entertainment Corp. , pointed out that his company now supplies 3,500 hours a month of VOD content to cable operators, up from a mere 150 hours per month in 2001.

"The flood of content is what's really going to make the game or break the game," Stasi said. "It's content that's still king, not resolution or aspect ratios."

Thanks to these trends, some tech executives contended that the bandwidth crisis may never actually end for cable operators. They predicted that the industry will constantly find itself needing to add more capacity to satisfy its customers and fend off competitors.

"There will always be a need for more upgrades," McIntyre said. "We are always going to need more bandwidth."

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(23)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
sgan201
50%
50%
sgan201,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:16:00 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
Read carefully.

They are admitting that they do not have enough bandwidth for more video channels. They are NOT admitting that they do not have enough bandwidth for data. In fact, if they give you more bandwidth for data, you will see more internet video as opposed to cable TV. That is NOT what they want to see happening.

Dreamer
lighten up!!
50%
50%
lighten up!!,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:16:00 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
That they they don't have enough bandwidth to serve their customers adequately. In my area service goes down to crap after about 4:30 p.m. I am fedup of calling Optimum Online whose tech goes through all the B.S. procedures, (router resets, modem boot...)except admitting that their nodes and their UBRs can't handle the traffic. I am sure I am not the only one experiencing these problems as many people admit poor service during peak hours. They then have the nerve to ask you to sign up for Voice service. What are you friggin nuts?? I can't wait for Verizon's FIOS in my neighborhood so I can tell Optimum Online to go pound salt...
stephencooke
50%
50%
stephencooke,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:59 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
Hi InetUID,

The bandwidth issues have more to do with the way that the cable is deployed (a single wire 'bus' for cable vs. a dedicated connection for DSL) and the way that the information (both data & TV) shares the available bandwidth on that cable.

If you would like to research this more there are a whole bunch of tutorials and standards that you can read. See DOCSIS for cable systems and DSL for phone line-based systems.

Steve.
fgoldstein
50%
50%
fgoldstein,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:15:59 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
Dreamer, the article is talking about both data (DOCSIS) and video.

Lighten, it's unlikely that the congestion is in the cable plant. Your basic DOCSIS system has 30-40 Mbps of downstream capacity. Average residential usage just isn't all that high. The typical congestion point is upstream, where a large number of DOCSIS nodes are consolidated and interconnect with the Internet backbone. Cablevision still has to pay its upstream IbSP, not to mention run a router infrastructure to get there.

The advantage that HFC operators (cablecos) have is that they already put fiber into the field. If they need more data capacity, it's an incremental change. Node splitting puts fewer subscribers on a single DOCSIS shared channel. DOCSIS 3.0 will aggregate more than 6 Mbps into a single DOCSIS stream. And they can eventually bypass the coax completely and use glass for the last leg, should it become cost-effective to do so.

The bigger limit is video capacity. HDTV takes a lot of bandwidth, and there are an awful lot of ordinary cable channels out there. The lesser-watched channels may end up migrating to video-on-demand first.
InetUID
50%
50%
InetUID,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:59 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
I've heard in the UK that cable is better because the 'wire' is thicker than the phone line to your house (DSL). If this is the case how come they are having bandwidth issues?
50%
50%
"Ill" Duce,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:59 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
If the MSO's move to an FTTH model (which I have heard outside LR,) what does that portend for the local franchise model and lack of regs? An MSO providing FTTH and MOCA is no diferent than and ILEC providing FTTH and MOCA.

What are local building codes going to say about the number of NIDs/ONU/whatevers on the side of houses, not to mention the retaliation of the ILECs.

Can the MSO's move from a regional decision making model imposed by the business structure to one of centralized planning?

AT&T and it's army of attorneys could argue that MSO's no longer get any relief from any regulation imposed on ILECs. MSO's could argue that if the ILEC's get nationwide video franchises, they should also giving them relief from local franchising.

And what pray tell of the bazillion dollars in local franchise taxes and other perqs extracted from MSOs by cities?

Smells like a heap o' pottage is cookin'
Hmmmm.

ozip
50%
50%
ozip,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:59 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
f...

Your right, all this talk about a bandwidth crunch is very misleading. The correct term is that some operators are experiencing a SPECTRUM CRUNCH because of increased demands of all services, data, on-demand and HD.

For further confusion, talk about DOCSIS 3.0 providing more bandwidth is also misleading, as I am sure you know. All it does in this context is provide a way of managing multiple channels combined to increase the agreegate. But to make it work, you still have to find more spectrum.


OZIP
ozip
50%
50%
ozip,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:59 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch
Im sure that the guy from Sunflower knows what he is talking about, but with that exception the quotes are from vendors who stand to sell a lot of equipment if their claims are true.

If you going to take the position, how about support from some more credible operator sources instead of vendors peddling their wares.

OZIP
tsat
50%
50%
tsat,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:57 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch

yes, the cable-tv cable in itself can handle more bandwidth becuase it is coaxial. Just on a physical level, it will always be able to handle more bandwidth then the twisted-pair telephone lines that carry DSL.

However, there is more to the problem than that. Typically, cable-TV cables are shared amongst many users, while a twisted-pair coming to you home is unique just to your house.

-tsat
paolo.franzoi
50%
50%
paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:15:56 PM
re: Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch

MG,

You have an error in your statement. Downloaded content is more expensive than cable, if it is legally obtained.

Go download every episode that you receive off basic cable via iTunes. Now that is theoretical, but even with people watching 20 hours a week that would be $20 - $40/week for downloaded content.

Unless you think Youtube has suddenly made American Idol obsolete. In which case you are patently insane.

seven
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Hubbard on Intersection of SD-WAN & MPLS

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Rick Hubbard, SVP of Network Product Management for AT&T Business Solutions, discusses how AT&T's approach to SD-WAN fits in with its overall virtualization strategy, explains how SD-WAN can improve enterprise customers' use of the cloud and addresses the intersection of SD-WAN and MPLS.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Keep Connected IoT Devices Under Control With Allot

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Allot AVP of International Pre-Sales, Daniel Keidar, explains how communications service providers can protect infrastructure and service availability from flooding attacks caused by malfunctioning or bot-infected devices connected to their network.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Buy American: Will It Affect the Telecom Sector?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.