SCTE 2010: How Much Bandwidth Does IP Video Need?

October 20, 2010 - 0 Comments

People often ask how many 6 MHz channels it takes to do an IP video offering over cable. The answer, of course, is “it depends,” but let’s be more specific: MSOs can create an IP video offering with as few as four 6 MHz channels. With eight, they can create a partial replacement of the traditional linear and on-demand video product line. Sixteen 6 MHz channels afford a full replacement of what’s on the MPEG plant today.

If that sounds like a lot, think about it another way. Today’s 860 MHz cable plant contains about 125 channels, including analog and digital. Between two and four channels are currently used to handle both broadband and voice over IP (VoIP) traffic. Viewed through that prism, 16 channels perhaps don’t seem like so much!

How much bandwidth is really needed to deliver VoIP depends on the nature of the service offering. Offering a full simulcast of the linear lineup costs more in bandwidth – some networks are already carried in dedicated analog, standard definition, and high definition bandwidth. By contrast, offering VoD content in IP is a variation on switched digital video, itself a bandwidth saving mechanism.

John Chapman, Cisco Fellow and CTO of Cisco’s Access, Transport and Technology group,
talks candidly in this short video about what it takes, in bandwidth and QoS, to launch a video over IP service.

What’s the best way to get there, when stranding the decade-plus investments in legacy digital video equipment isn’t an option? The migration path is much like the shift was from analog to digital, and from SD to HD– Add IP capacity, by way of bonded DOCSIS channels, little by little. Analog spectrum recaptures dovetails with this strategy quite well.

IP video is one of the topics sure to be top of mind for attendees at this week’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo: What’s the service offering, how much bandwidth does it take, and what the challenges will be in making the migration from today’s MPEG transport. Here at Cisco, we’re big believers in not just VoIP, but full spectrum IP.

Having worked on the DOCSIS specification before it was a specification, it’s great to see the continued momentum toward moving, eventually, to an all-IP environment. If this topic is top of mind for you, please do come see what we have going with our uBR10000 Series and in our new line cards. Since you last saw us, we tripled the amount of upstream and downstream bandwidth for IP video, and we’re very excited to help you build an IP video offering that lets customers experience video in a whole new way.

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