The evolution of cable networks came into focus at the recent SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Denver, Colorado. Cable industry professionals from all over the world came together to learn and share the next generation of network technologies that will be shaping the cable industry for years to come. Distributed Access Architectures, virtualization and automation were key themes throughout the expo, highlighting the customer need for scale, performance and flexibility.

I’m proud to say that Cisco is leading the industry in next gen cable access with fiber deep and Remote PHY:

  • First to market with an end-to-end Remote PHY solution, Infinite Broadband
  • First to market with Automation for Remote PHY, Cisco Smart PHY Automation
  • Leading the industry with innovations such as Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 and Cloud Native virtualization

Let me explain:

The Network is Evolving

A new generation of DAA (distributed access architecture) is being deployed by cable operators worldwide. Remote PHY (RPHY) offers operators unprecedented capacity improvements and total cost of ownership savings. To prove how real this evolution is, we demonstrated our new GS7000i RPHY Smart Node, along with our RPHY compact shelf working with the cBR-8 CCAP Core. We showed the industry RPHY interoperability is a reality by running multiple RPDs from the OpenRPD Ecosystem on our CCAP Core. Taking this one step further, we had added the Arris RPD to that, which made a strong statement of industry backing for DAA. Automation was something a lot of people were talking about at SCTE. We actually demonstrated some real magic with Cisco’s Smart PHY mobile app, showing how our Remote PHY devices can be remotely provisioned and managed from a simple user interface.

Another topic often brought up in discussions at the Expo was virtualization, and central to this idea for cable operators is our advancements in a Cloud Native CMTS (aka Virtual CMTS). Our approach to implementing a Cloud Native CMTS is to distribute much of the traditional processing out to the edge while centralizing the control of management functions. With a Cloud Native CMTS, cable operators gain the ability to quickly scale up new services and reduce the overhead associated with housing and powering traditional CMTS hardware. A Cloud Native CMTS also provides a huge amount of flexibility for operators wanting to build out their Distributed Access Architectures (DAA).

DOCSIS 3.1 is here and Full Duplex is coming:

Cable operators are more capable than ever of bringing the promise of gigabit internet speeds into their customers’ homes. While the downstream speeds are already impressive, at SCTE we demonstrated a working version of Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX), enabling symmetric multi-gigabit services over existing HFC networks. This came just one week after CableLabs completed the specification for Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1. Full Duplex DOCSIS technology offers operators a cost-effective alternative to running fiber to the home (FTTH) by matching fiber’s capacity and performance over a cable’s existing HFC network. There is, of course, a lot that goes into making Full Duplex DOCSIS work and to better understand how, I recommend checking out our recently published white paper.

Mobile is the next frontier:

Cable network operators have a robust, high-capacity fixed-network just waiting to tap into the next generation of 5G mobile offerings. Using a combination of existing technologies, we demonstrated a proof of concept together with CableLabs, showing how small-cell radios can be plugged right into an already dense cable infrastructure. Given the range limitations of 5G signals, cable networks are well positioned to make mobile network densification and 5G a reality. By combining a cable network’s current physical infrastructure with Full Duplex DOCSIS, and then adding mobile backhaul to the mix, you get a recipe for big opportunity.

One last thing I’d like to mention is how honored I was to witness my esteemed colleague John Chapman inducted into the 2017 class of Cable Pioneers at the event. You can read all about that in my previous blog.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in cable access throughout the industry, and Cisco is leading the way. Keep in touch with our next generation solutions by visiting our cable solutions site often.


Sean Welch

Vice President and General Manager

Service Provider - Cable