DOCSIS 3.1 & Fiber Deep Top Cable's List

Deploying DOCSIS 3.1 and extending fiber deeper into the access network should be the biggest next-gen priorities for cable operators this year, according to the latest survey of tech industry executives.

The poll, conducted by our sister site UBB2020, found that DOCSIS 3.1 and Fiber Deep tied for the top choice among readers. In each case, 27% of respondents selected that option as the leading priority.

Implementing a Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) approach followed in third place, attracting slightly over 14% of the votes from UB2020 readers. Integrating OTT video services into existing video offerings came in right behind in fourth, earning almost 13% of the votes. Virtualizing key network functions and developing and deploying a competitive wireless service tied for fifth place, each netting 9.5% of respondents. (See Cable's Priorities: DOCSIS 3.1 & Fiber.)

In some ways, the latest flash poll results mirror recent polls taken by Light Reading. In those flash polls conducted in March 2016 and March 2015, LR readers rated DOCSIS 3.1 very highly among the industry's next-gen priorities as well. Specifically, DOCSIS easily topped the list two years ago and came in a strong second last year.

But there are key differences in the poll results as well. For one thing, DAA scored much higher in the two LR surveys and actually came in over DOCSIS 3.1 last year. For another, Fiber Deep came out of nowhere in this year's UB2020, having not even qualified as an option in the two earlier LR polls. (See Where Is Cable Heading? and Talkin' 'Bout Next Generation.)

So what do all these poll results, albeit totally unscientific, mean? First, they indicate that deploying DOCSIS 3.1 remains an important cable industry priority. In fact, if anything, rolling out D3.1 seems more important than ever as cable operators seek to compete with telco FTTH deployments by offering gigabit speeds to their broadband subscribers.

Second, they indicate that extending fiber deeper has taken on much greater importance as cablecos look to upgrade their networks for faster, more efficient delivery of more advanced broadband and IP video services by the end of the decade. Fiber Deep is quickly becoming a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.

Finally, DAA remains a key priority for cable, but it's not seen as quite as urgent anymore as DOCSIS 3.1 and Fiber Deep. Instead, cable operators seem more comfortable taking their time to test out the different flavors of DAA and see which option makes the most sense to roll out broadly.  

Of course, all this could change over the course of the next 12 months. So we'll be back with a fresh survey next spring.

For more information on the latest cable next-gen poll, please check out this story on UBB2020.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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