What’s Next for Cable Tech?
When Alan Breznick asked me to blog for Light Reading, I was unsure what to pontificate about.
I could talk about how we can continue to utilize DOCSIS 3.0 for many years simply by bonding more downstream channels and getting up to 1 Gbit/s downstream, and maybe even move the split to 85 MHz so we could have up to 300 Mbit/s upstream. Our current analog lasers have a lot of useful life left in them as well. Every time we think we are ready to send our current technology to the retirement home, we figure out another way to keep it productive for us in serving new technologies to our customers.
Yet another article on CCAP? Nah. As an industry, we have been CCAPed out for a while. We all understand how important CCAP is to the cable operator world to help with the reduction of space and power in the headend as we merge edge QAM modulators and CMTSs into a single chassis. We realize that reducing the complexity and intersection of the combiner network cuts linear impairments and helps with gaining back the much needed headroom for higher-order modulations. We understand that having a single chassis to manage will simplify our operation engineers’ efforts and maybe help get them some much needed sleep as we look for new technologies and services to further stress out their lives.
Maybe I should talk about DOCSIS 3.1? Hmmm. DOCSIS 3.1, affectionately called D3.1 by its friends, is another game-changer technology. DOCSIS <= 3.0 has served us well for almost 15 years. Many of us have sweated for years helping to draft the DOCSIS specifications under the watchful eye of CableLabs, without whom we would not have the ability to achieve the level of interoperability we have today.
However, those of us who spend our days looking dreamily out of the window at the way things need to be for us to remain relevant as an industry, we recognize that things do have to change. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
DOCSIS 3.1 provides us the ability to migrate from today’s technology, currently limited to approximately 1 Gbit/s downstream and 100 Mbit/s upstream, to a world where we can dramatically increase our throughput and goodput to the point where we can compete with fiber, without the significant investment of installing much more fiber in existing deployments. It allows us to take our time and make smart investments in fiber builds. Design for N+0, but only build it when needed, or even build to N+1 and pull shadow fiber so it is ready when we need it. If we are smart, we can extend the life of coax for many years, long enough to give the good Dr. Moore a chance to work his magic.
Or I could…
Then again, let’s leave something for future blogs.
— Jeff Finkelstein, Executive Director of Strategic Architecture, Cox Communications