& cplSiteName &

Arris CTO: What's Next for DOCSIS?

Jeff Baumgartner
10/23/2018
50%
50%

As an extension to DOCSIS 3.1, Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX) will put cable operators in position to deliver symmetrical gigabit speeds over their widely deployed HFC networks, in part by letting upstream and downstream traffic live and breathe in the the same block of spectrum.

While FDX is generally viewed as the next step in cable's HFC evolution, one of its constraints is the requirement of an "N+0" architecture whereby fiber is pulled deeper into the network and all the amplifiers are eliminated between the node and the home. That is the road companies like Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) are taking as they push ahead with N+0, Remote PHY, and distributed access architectures (DAA), setting up the path to Full Duplex DOCSIS. (See Comcast Eyes 'Scale Deployments' of Remote PHY in 2018.)

But what about the operators out there that have N+3, N+6 or even N+10 environments and those that will not, at least for the foreseeable future, get to N+0? Based on the current requirements of FDX, they're on the outside looking in.

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), one of the cable industry's key network infrastructure vendors, says it is making progress with research in two areas -– extended spectrum DOCSIS and a new class of what it refers to as "FDX Amplifiers" -- that would provide MSOs with some of the key benefits of Full Duplex DOCSIS (namely multi-gigabit symmetrical gigabit capacities) without N+0. Looking further ahead, Arris estimates that access networks will need to be ready to deliver about 20 Gbit/s to the home within the next ten to 15 years.

Among the options being explored, expanded spectrum DOCSIS centers on pushing capacity well beyond frequencies such as 1.2GHz or 1.7GHz (1.7GHz is the current, optional spectrum ceiling specified by DOCSIS 3.1), into the nether regions of 3GHz, 6GHz and even 25GHz. Arris execs at a CableLabs conference in the fall of 2015, postulating that capacities of 50 Gbit/s -– or even 200 Gbit/s -- or more are possible by raising the ceiling into those lofty frequencies and, therefore, tacking on capacity before today's DOCSIS and HFC technologies run out of gas by the mid-2020s. (See Here Comes DOCSIS 4.0 and Why DOCSIS May Never Die.)

Fast-forwarding to today, Arris believes that it's possible for Full Duplex DOCSIS and extended spectrum DOCSIS to co-habit and interoperate. Taking it a step further, Arris reckons that it's also possible to tweak expanded spectrum DOCSIS in a way that would keep the downstream and upstream traffic separate -– possibly with a guard band –- using Frequency Division Duplex (how cable separates the upstream and downstream today), rather than having them live together on the same block of spectrum.

In that scenario, the upstream ceiling would be lifted to 300MHz, 492MHz or perhaps 684MHz (something Arris refers to as an "Ultra-High Split"), while the downstream would live above that -- up to 1.8GHz, and potentially even higher up in the spectrum.

That work continues to be ongoing and "semi-promising," Tom Cloonan, CTO of Network Solutions, at Arris, said. Heading to 3GHz and beyond "is a 2035 kind of thing, but, nevertheless, it's doable."

Tom Cloonan says Arris is studying new technologies and engineering techniques that will extend the life of DOCSIS and HFC networks, enabling cable operators to stay ahead of the capacity curve.
Tom Cloonan says Arris is studying new technologies and engineering techniques that will extend the life of DOCSIS and HFC networks, enabling cable operators to stay ahead of the capacity curve.

Coincidentally, Arris started to noodle on that when the idea of Full Duplex DOCSIS started to spring up.

"It's an area of research right now" that could be attractive to operators that haven't gone to N+0, or have no near-term plans to do so, Cloonan said. "We view it as a twist or tweak on the extended spectrum DOCSIS proposal."

The idea requires new development as well, but Cloonan notes that this was also the case for FDX three years ago, and that Full Duplex DOCSIS is now on the cusp of becoming a deployment reality as products start to emerge next year and into 2020.

Arris's other, somewhat competitive, research program is focused on the FDX Amplifier, a new-age PHY layer device that would allow Full Duplex (upstream and downstream traffic running on top of each other in the same block of spectrum) to operate in an N+1 or maybe even N+3 environment.

Cloonan said cable operators are starting to study these emerging options, but stressed that it's not clear yet if one or both will pan out and have enough buy-in to turn them into a full-fledged commercial endeavor.

"They all have their ears open to the options," he said. "There's no obvious, clear 100% bet you can place and know it's the winner. We have to look at all of them."

It's also possible that they could both be used, as a phased deployment or a deployment that employs both at the same time.

Next page: Potential product paths and staving off the need to go to FTTP

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
HarjG300
50%
50%
HarjG300,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/27/2018 | 3:15:55 PM
10G to Home
Great article, the next disruption to deleivering broadband will be 10G to the home. This becomes feasable with the advent of DAA. Networks planners are already architectecting RPDs to have 10G interfaces and this can be increased to higher data rates. There are also other technologies as well as FDX DOCSIS which can get us there, but there is no doubt that 1G is becoming the de facto standard for broadband and operators are looking at providing higher speeds.
More Blogs from CxO Spotlight
MobiTV's president and COO says Amazon is 'really engaging' with plans to optimize and customize its streaming platform for the pay-TV operator market.
After focusing on pay-TV box partnerships, digital content specialist has entered hybrid mode with its first standalone OTT video service.
The startup, with Comcast and Charter in its corner, believes its AI and machine learning-driven analysis platform steers clear of data privacy concerns raised by those that rely on deep packet inspection tech.
The CEO of Juniper Networks said that getting companies to market quickly means sharpening the vendor's edge in open source software, cloud computing orchestration, and professional services.
The leader of Ericsson's business in North America explains that the opportunity for the industrial Internet of Things has been a long time in the making – and service providers are ready.
Featured Video
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 17-19, 2019, Dallas, Texas
October 1, 2019, New Orleans, Louisiana
October 2-22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
October 10, 2019, New York, New York
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
All Upcoming Live Events
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
Transform Beyond Borders to Lead the Innovation
By Ben Zhou, CEO, Whale Cloud
Reject Limits. Build the Future.
By David Wang, Huawei
China Telecom & Huawei Jointly Complete the World's First End-to-End 5G SA Voice & Video Call
By Jay Liu, Senior Marketing Manager, Cloud Core Product Line, Huawei Technologies
All Partner Perspectives