Cable Tech

Charter CTO: Cable industry 'well on our way' to 10G

CABLE NEXT-GEN TECHNOLOGIES & STRATEGIES 2022 – The cable industry is making progress towards the promise of "10G," an initiative that will rely partly on DOCSIS 4.0 to deliver symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds alongside enhanced security and low-latency capabilities, execs said Tuesday.

The industry is "well on our way" to meeting the goals of 10G, Stephanie Mitchko-Beale, EVP and CTO at Charter Communications, said here during a recorded keynote conversation that included Mark Dzuban, CEO of SCTE, and Alan Breznick, the cable/video practice leader at Light Reading.

Charter, she pointed out, is already augmenting its DOCSIS 3.1-based hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant and has conducted some initial DOCSIS 4.0 lab trials.

Mitchko-Beale, an industry veteran named CTO of Charter in the fall of 2019, said the expectation is that D4.0 interoperability will push forward in 2022 and into 2023. "I think we're on a really good path," she said. "We're at the beginning of the commercialization [phase]."

Dzuban said SCTE, the industry's standards-setting organization which is now a subsidiary of CableLabs, is well down the path on assessing what the 10G network – which will encompass HFC, fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) and wireless technologies – will need to look like.

"That's underway. It's not like this is going to be a cold start sometime in the future," he said. "This is real; this is going to happen."

Though the technical aspects of 10G and D4.0 are moving forward, Mitchko-Beale said the "speed in change in technology" and its impact on operations are among the bigger challenges that the industry is facing.

The pace of change, which affects not only Charter's own workforce but also those of its tech partners, "requires us to be ahead of what's coming," she added. "The challenge right now is bringing the technology to operations … It's really changing the way our organization thinks about operating the network with more software-driven technologies. The whole path to 10G is really an evolution of the network and incorporates so many technologies beyond just the DOCSIS 4.0 specifications."

It's still not clear which apps and services will require 10G, but Mitchko-Beale said the resulting platform will support services such as gaming, telemedicine and training as well as high-bandwidth and low-latency experiences that extend well beyond today's virtual and augmented reality capabilities.

And while the capabilities of 10G are lofty, it's not the end of the road. "10G is fundamentally a building block to much greater speeds and much greater capabilities. It's very foundational," Dzuban said.

Light Reading will have much more coverage from the event throughout the week.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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