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The Beauty of Remote PHY (And Other Infrastructure Trends at ANGA 2014)

detmanWritten By Daniel Etman, Director, Product Management, Cable Access at Cisco

One of the taller trends protruding from the cable infrastructure side of life these days, along with Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV), is the fiber optimization and convergence strategy known as “Remote PHY.

And if you’re into infrastructure trends, know that we expect the matter of Remote PHY to qualify as a genuine hot ticket at the upcoming ANGA show, in Cologne.

Why: Because as service providers with cable access assets roadmap the infrastructure portions of their strategies to provide Gigabit services (residential and enterprise), mobile backhaul, and headend virtualization, they’re finding it increasingly important to be able to use the same fiber(s) for multiple purposes.

Such desires lead directly to Remote PHY, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to define, because it can mean different things to different people. For that reason, here’s our view of what Remote PHY is, and why it matters:

For starters, it lives in the “fiber-deep” strategies of service providers with cable access, and their conversion of analogue fiber to digital fiber.

It works by separating the physical part of the CMTS (or CCAP) platform -- the modulation, essentially -- into a separate box, which can be located tens of kilometers away. The R-PHY box (shelf or node) perform the modulation of the upstream and downstream signal, while all the CMTS intelligence is kept on a CMTS-Core function, interconnected by Ethernet or Optical transport. The CMTS-Core can run on existing CMTSs, like the uBR10K, without any service interruption.

Straight away, that reduces physical space requirements and power consumption, which is good on many levels. (Finance people love Remote PHY!)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that Remote PHY is, as well, a fundamental catalyst to headend evolution. As packet processing and modulation continue to separate -- processing in the CMTS or CCAP core, modulation in the remotely-located PHY shelf -- the next step is to migrate the processing activities into the headend data center.

(This is a more polite way of saying “headend virtualization,” because in our view, the headend doesn’t vaporize via virtualization, but instead evolves into … well, more of a headend data center.)

I could talk all day long about these topics, as well as our new hyper-dense CBR8 platform, with integrated CCAP, and pre-engineered to support DOCSIS 3.1. In Cologne, we’re showing it, as well as our Remote PHY.

If you want to talk shop in Cologne, come find us! We’re on Stand #J13.

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