Bandwidth consumption remains on a steady, never-ending rise. Subscribers now value their high-speed data service more than any other, including video. Based on subscriber bandwidth demand, many cable access networks built years ago are reaching their capacity limits – and many have already reached that limit. Segmenting the network by splitting service groups is no longer enough, and scaling upstream bandwidth remains challenging, particularly as more and more customers monitor their homes by live streaming over webcams. System upgrades are sorely needed.

Faced with increasing pressure from competitive fiber (10/10G PON) and fixed wireless broadband offers, coupled with the increasing requirement to support symmetrical bandwidth, the need to move forward with a new architecture is clear. For the cable provider, a network upgrade to a distributed access architecture (DAA) with Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX) capabilities would be the straightforward solution. However, FDX technology is not yet fully vetted, and cable modems supporting this new standard are not commercially available.

This begs an interesting question. Is it possible to upgrade your critical infrastructure, while minimizing the amount of regrettable spend associated with technology timing uncertainties? On the one hand, you cannot afford to jeopardize customer retention by failing to evolve the performance of your subscribers’ most valued services in a timely fashion. On the other hand, how do you ensure that your access network investments can be leveraged, as new technology becomes available?

One of the most critical elements to consider in this equation are digital nodes. With DAA, cable operators are making significant investments in nodes as they scale their outside plant to support higher performance. Will this investment fall into the category of regrettable spend when FDX ultimately hits the scene?

The answer, happily, is no. At Cisco, we are working on the answer to this dilemma, and it is right around the corner. You need to confidently invest in your network today, without fear of having to replace your nodes when FDX is ready. This calls for a node that is both smart and FDX-ready. What does this mean? In a way, it’s reminiscent of that period of time before the upstream path was activated, and amplifiers designed as “two-way ready” came with an on-board slot for the reverse module. Except in this case, it’s a node, not an amplifier, and it’s an FDX module, not an upstream card.

The result is an FDX-ready node that can reduce your operations costs immediately upon installing – by giving unprecedented, remote visibility and control of your access network. A node that supports current operating needs and is field-upgradeable to FDX by simply plugging an FDX Remote PHY module into the node housing – when that technology is ready for prime time. I’m talking a two-minute-per-node, automated upgrade to FDX that you can choose to do whenever your Full Duplex DOCSIS business case calls for it.

We announced the industry’s first FDX-ready node, the GS7000 FDXi, today, and we’re sharing the details on this extraordinary solution at the Cable-Tec Expo this week in Atlanta. Come see us in booth #1603, and discover how we can enable you to upgrade your cable access network to a digital, high bandwidth, smart network – that’s ready for FDX in the future.


John Holobinko

Director of Strategy

Access Networks