KEVIN BOURG, HFC NETWORK
OPTIMISING YOUR HFC NETWORK EVOLUTION WHILE LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR SEAMLESS MIGRATION TO FTTH
The cable industry is becoming increasingly competitive and it is more challenging than ever to meet fast-rising consumer expectations. By Kevin Bourg , network architect, Corning Optical Communications
C able operators are to customers, allowing for faster internet speeds and increased channel counts. While today’s network upgrades are more demanding, they come with better options. Traditional hybrid fibre coax (HFC) networks that are upgraded or deployed must be able to accommodate today’s architectures with an eye towards tomorrow’s needs. These new fibre deep architectures are pushing fibre within kilometres of the home allowing operators to easily consider deploying a surgical fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment as needed. Looking beyond the Gigabit network Internet billboard speeds of up to 1Gbps of bandwidth have arrived and operators now set their sights on technologies supporting 10Gbps. These upgrade plans and network investments play a critical role in driving operators’ future success and satisfying consumer demand. For those choosing the traditional HFC architecture, preparations and deployments are underway for one of the largest external plant upgrades since the early 1990s. Nodes are being deployed in homes-passed groups as small as 64 homes with an architecture in which the active amplifiers are removed creating a 100 percent passive RF environment from the node to the home. In many circles this architecture may be referred to as Node + 0 or Fibre Deep. This upgrade will require the deployment of up to 10 times the number of HFC nodes deployed today and an equal amount of expansion in the headend/primary nodes. Other operators are incorporating FTTH-enabling technologies into their existing HFC plant. For instance, CATV operators have chosen a path of radio frequency over glass (RFoG). An RFoG solution uses the same outside plant architectural elements of a traditional continually upgrading their networks through node segmentations and node splits, which lead to increases in the RF spectrum delivered
equipment for rapid rollouts and a “pay- as-you-grow” approach to reducing initial construction costs will ensure low CapEx. Robust components to minimise truck rolls and simplified inventory with network components that can be reused in dierent parts of the network have significant impacts on OpEx. When choosing the optimal network architecture, the following aspects need careful consideration: Inside Plant Subscribers’ bandwidth demand creates increased congestion on the headend and primary nodes, with components such as cable modem termination systems (CMTS) and optical transmitters and receivers. For operators that have already occupied every square inch of space; adding capacity in the outside plant to support 10 times the number of HFC optical nodes will bring challenges to the inside plant. In these fibre-rich application spaces, high-density fibre management systems with optimised cable and jumper management can deliver increased port density and flexibility for new and subsequent reconfigurations, as well as for future capacity upgrades. This network transformation at the headend/ primary node should also address the requirements of connecting and cross- connecting for multiple applications while also oering flexibility, simplicity, and high density. Local convergence points CATV operators driving optical technologies deeper into their networks face civil infrastructure, permitting, and space obstacles that can hinder their speed of deployment and costs.
FTTH deployment. However, higher- level services are delivered natively using RF video and DOCSIS-based internet and voice services. This preserves the network elements within the residence and the upstream billing, management and service delivery platforms. Although RFoG does provide a nice “drop-in” solution towards FTTH, challenges with upstream contention has resulted in operators moving towards a traditional PON protocol called EPON. The result is a movement away from native DOCSIS-based internet and voice services towards a traditional Internet Protocol (IP) services model. CableLabs published the standard DOCSIS Provisioning over EPON (DPoE) allowing for the integration of an EPON platform with billing, management and service delivery platforms typically deployed in a DOCSIS environment. Operators have their choice of options and the key is ensuring that the next major outside plant upgrade prepares the fibre plant for its ultimate migration to FTTH – whether across an operator’s entire region or within a single node- serving area. Whichever the chosen path, speed to deployment, quality of workmanship and future upgradability are critical. Building the optimised network The ability to upgrade the outside plant quickly and cost-eectively to FTTH is key to maintaining a competitive advantage as subscribers’ bandwidth demands continue to grow exponentially. Whether networks use a traditional HFC architecture or fibre deep, the goal is to deploy an infrastructure that scores high on upgradability and low in both capital and operational expenses. Easy-to-install “plug-and-play”
| ISSUE 13 | Q2 2018
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