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Cable operators are doing the math on Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX), and many are finding that Node+0 is a difficult goal to achieve alongside a newly implemented distributed access architecture (DAA). Ovum's new wireline access equipment forecast reflects the technological middle ground operators are seeking for the new decade.

Cable operators consider upgrade paths for early 2020s

While many cable operators are still upgrading their networks to DOCSIS 3.1, plans are being drawn for future capabilities within the next five to ten years. FDX has been touted as the next-gen answer, the definitive technology to compete with FTTH, allowing up to 10Gbps and symmetrical downstream and upstream bandwidth via coax.

The path to implementing FDX is a complicated one, both physically and from a business case perspective. Many cable operators have a Node+4 or Node+5 architecture, incorporating amplifiers in the outside plant (OSP) to maintain signal strength to the customer. As is standard currently, FDX requires Node+0, essentially eliminating all amplifiers on the outside line between hub and customer and pushing fiber deep to the node.

Operators would see opex savings with a shift to only a Node+0 architecture. However, reduction of the OSP, such as removal of amplifiers, is in conflict with the adoption of DAA, which moves network equipment from cramped hubs into the field – in tandem, opex costs would increase.

Currently, we feel that the business case of FDX alongside DAA is too cumbersome for most operators to bear and is a main reason for our lack of confidence in the take-off of FDX by 2024. There are, however, some promising alternative technologies and options currently being explored that will enhance the business case, such as Enhanced Spectrum Full Duplex DOCSIS.

Consequently, in the upcoming version of Ovum's Wireline Fixed Access Equipment Forecast 2019–24, we have collectively forecasted all forms of next-generation DOCSIS into one sub-category entitled "Next-Gen DOCSIS" to represent all possible upgrade paths by the mid-2020s.


Further reading

Distributed Access Architecture and Fiber Deep, SPT002-000142 (November 2018)

2019 Trends to Watch: Broadband Access Equipment, SPT002-000143 (October 2018)


Jaimie Lenderman, Senior Analyst, Service Provider Technology

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