There was no shortage of topics up for discussion at the Cable Next-Gen Technologies and Strategies (CNG) show in March 2019, including Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX), distributed-access architecture (DAA) transformation, and customer quality of experience (QoE). Cable operators, vendors from across the ecosystem, and industry veterans shared a wide range of viewpoints.
Business case drives network upgrades paths
Cable operators are in a race against time. Their networks' ability to support ever-growing customer demands for bandwidth, particularly on the upstream end, is a persistent challenge. A number of operators fear that the next "killer app" that causes major drain on upstream capacity in the network could spell serious trouble if they are not prepared.
Running simultaneously with upgrading the network is the business case to do so. Increased bandwidth for both downstream and upstream is just one factor of spend; operators are also juggling service-group expansion and managing customer's in-home QoE, among other factors.
FDX has been lauded as cable's answer to FTTH competition and is capable of 10Gbps symmetrical. However, FDX requires a 100% passive plant, and the technology is becoming less attractive as operators consider the business case. The high cost of implementing FDX has motivated operators to seek alternatives that will permit part of the network to stay active.
DAA and fiber deeper continue to be a priority for many operators to reduce long-term opex costs. However, the process is lengthy and complex and requires extensive planning and testing. Furthermore, opex-saving aspects of SDN/NFV, including automation and virtualization, require significant capex to implement.
Somewhat positive news is that customer in-home QoE is currently addressable by upgrading customer premises equipment and installing self-healing and self-optimizing Wi-Fi mesh systems. But this is only a short-term solution. As one operator at CNG stated, "If network capacity isn't there, Wi-Fi isn't going to work."
Jaimie Lenderman, Senior Analyst, Service Provider Technology