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SCTE's Power Play Is Software-Driven

Mari Silbey
9/29/2015

With everything else in the network heading toward virtualization, why not virtualize power management too?

At the annual SCTE Cable-Tec Expo next month, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is ready to give the first demonstrations of its new SCTE 216 2015 standard outlining the Adaptive Power Systems Interface Specification (APSIS). Part of the New IP age, APSIS defines software interfaces between energy management applications and control systems within a service delivery network, allowing operators to more closely match power resources with power demand.

In layman's terms, this means service providers will be able to save energy by moving closer to a reality where they're only sending power to places in the network when and where it's actually needed.

There are two APSIS demos scheduled for the SCTE conference. One from Worldwide Environmental Services (WES) and Concurrent Thinking, Ltd. will show an example of using APSIS to monitor hardware conditions and control power output as well as measure energy utilization and savings. The other, from Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), involves reducing power usage specifically in the company's E6000 CCAP device on an automated basis during non-peak hours.

The E6000 demo takes two blades in the chassis that are not fully utilized and moves registered cable modems from one to the other when power demand is low. By completely moving modems off of one of the modules, the E6000 can then shut down power to the leftover inactive blade.


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"This particular initiative made us think about things in a slightly different way," says Bill Hanks, Arris's director of system engineering. "We've thought about … how to reduce our energy usage during normal busy-hour, high-utilization times. What happens if we start thinking about what to do in the cases where it's not such a busy hour?"

Focusing on the E6000 makes sense for Arris because it's one of the largest power users in the company's product portfolio. (See Arris Caps Off CCAP Trials.)

Operators have pushed for greater and greater channel density in the cable headend, but that means there's a bigger power draw too. According to Hanks, with the new APSIS solution, there's the potential to reduce energy use by nearly 15% during hours of low demand.

As Hanks explains it, Arris also identified a new technology process when developing the APSIS proof of concept that is now patent-pending. It allows the E6000 to move more quickly into a low-power mode where a group of modems is shifted from one blade to another.

Asked if these means the industry is moving toward the idea of virtualizing service groups, Hanks wasn't fully willing to commit, answering with a tepid response of "somewhat."

"Eventually there might be technology where we can virtualize them," says Hanks. "That technology is not quite there yet."

In the meantime, development of the APSIS standard is part of the SCTE's Energy 2020 plan, which aims to reduce power consumption in cable networks by 20% on a per-unit basis, and energy costs by 25% on a per-unit basis by the end of the decade. The SCTE demos will take place in New Orleans when the Cable-Tec Expo conference kicks off on October 13.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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Steve Nowen
Steve Nowen
9/29/2015 | 11:08:12 AM
So optimistic
"which aims to reduce power consumption in cable networks by 20% on a per-unit basis, and energy costs by 25% on a per-unit basis by the end of the decade"

I think it's a little bit optimistic, isn't it ?
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