Author: Dr. Robert Howald, Fellow of the Technical Staff
More services. Better services. Innovative, blended applications that deliver converged experiences built around valued customer content. This is the path cable has started down, and one with enormous promise for the industry. So what’s to worry about? Well, beyond executing on the enabling all-IP make-over – no simple walk in the park itself – is the core question of how to achieve this vision within the capabilities of the access infrastructure. The scale of growth that the access network has facilitated from its early days, harkening back to the analog broadcast of a few hundred Megahertz of video, is remarkable. The key question becomes: Can it deliver even more? Can it keep up with the growth associated with the applications described above? How do operators ensure that their network remains up to the challenge? The answers to the above are: yes, yes, and…very carefully!
While there are many variables in the cable services and network evolution equation, it is nonetheless a quantifiable problem. And, Step 1 is always a sound understanding of the problem. Analysis shows that aggressive Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) in the cable downstream, typical of what has been observed historically, can be tracked, and its implications managed over time with long-term sustainability by applying the proper balance of the video service mix, network segmentation, and already-available technology tools. Ten years of aggressive, continuous growth is easily envisioned, and more depending on the aggressiveness of migration steps. Employing modest technology evolution translates into yet more years of growth runway for continuous service expansion.
Similarly, the return path can be put on a long-term path by understanding its dynamics, and quantifying scenarios expected to drive new traffic out of the home. While raw traffic growth upstream has been less aggressive, it’s unlikely to remain so. And, the nature of the solution alternatives is more complex. However, it is straightforward to show how specific steps can ensure over a decade of new traffic growth runway and align the upstream and downstream timelines.
New analysis also projects what “boundaries” might exist around how we consume traffic today, and point the way towards a potential end-state architecture relying on full exploitation of coaxial spectrum and complementary optical platforms. In the meantime, we have many, MANY years to observe what futuristic, yet-to-be-determined applications might make us re-think bandwidth requirements. Beam me up, Scotty!
To learn more, I will be sharing these findings on network and service evolution, traffic growth implications, and next generation HFC concepts next week at the SCTE Canadian Summit in the session, “We Better Get this Right! Critical Elements in the Planning and Evolution of HFC Networks in Canada.” The presentation and paper will provide operators with valuable guidance around the proper planning of HFC evolution and a view of the possibilities for the long-term and beyond.
Blog: Upgrading to 1 GHz and Beyond—Gallium Nitride Deployments Get Started