Vendors making moves in the DAA space

March 2, 2020
Migration is as consistent and continual for cable operators as it is for the geese that pass through the northern skies. The reality is that cable operators are faced with the evolution from current ...

Migration is as consistent and continual for cable operators as it is for the geese that pass through the northern skies.

The reality is that cable operators are faced with the evolution from current HFC and DOCSIS networks to 10G DOCSIS HFC networks that will become increasingly necessary as data demands change. As Doug Johnson, senior software architect, Vecima Networks, and Colin Howlett, VP of architecture, Vecima, eloquently wrote recently in BTR, Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) is a "key architecture for enabling the 10G vision, and flexible access technology a key mechanism to achieve that vision." And a Remote-PHY (R-PHY)-based DAA offers the ability to use Ethernet-based digital fiber and PHY processing at the edge, which will reduce hub space and power requirements, improve RF capacity, and improve fiber utilization.

Along this vein, Vecima recently upgraded its Entra DAA node portfolio by adding support for two RPDs in a single node. Specifically, the Entra Access Node for DAA is a single DOCSIS RPD node that is segmentable to support increasing capacity demands. The Entra EN8112 node has a single RPD supporting one downstream service group and two upstream service groups. Alternatively, operators can start with two RPDs equipped as the EN8124 node, which supports two downstream and four upstream service groups. Full spectrum OFDM/OFDMA is supported in hardware for each downstream and upstream service group. Upgrade kits from single RPD to dual RPD support are available.

"Bringing a truly full capacity segmental DAA node solution to the market is a game changer," said Scott Raaf, VP of product management at Vecima. "The cable industry has been relying on segmentable nodes to alleviate capacity constraints for more than two decades. Operators need a segmentable solution today because I can't go replace a single legacy node, which was segmented several years ago, with two DAA nodes. Full capacity segmentation is required for the industry to truly operationalize DAA."

Vecima's other Entra products include the Remote PHY Monitor (RPM), Video QAM Manager (VQM), Interactive Video Controller (IVC), and Legacy QAM Adapter (LQA). They are all designed for interoperability with other vendors' equipment. The Entra node family has R-PHY operational support including integration with leakage detection and upstream spectrum capture systems, NDR/NDF, and support from the Vecima Entra Remote PHY Monitor monitoring and configuration platform.

At Cable-Tec Expo last fall, the VQM was awarded four Diamonds in BTR's annual review. The product enables engineers to integrate video in a DAA with existing infrastructure such as edge QAMs or bulk video encryptors. Operating as a Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) auxiliary core, the VQM instructs RPDs on how to create broadcast and narrowcast QAM video services using one or more standards-compliant video engines. "As operators move toward DAA, the Entra Video QAM Manager should help streamline rollouts," a Diamonds judge said.

Also at Expo, CommScope highlighted its own advancements in this realm, including the DAA Aggregator, which enables DAA Remote PHY devices (RPDs) to feed previously fielded nodes while increasing the number of homes passed to between 150 to 300. The technology is housed in a standard RPD node, which means that operators can leverage existing infrastructure. This followed the announcement last summer that the company had expanded its DAA portfolio with the RD1322 2x2 RPD for both traditional segmented and fiber-deep architectures. The RD1322 fits into CommScope's portfolio of outside plant solutions that is intended to allow operators build on their installed base of nodes while supporting Extended Spectrum DOCSIS, Full Duplex DOCSIS, DAA, remote PON, wireless backhaul, and DOCSIS 3.1. The DAA Aggregator and the RD1322 are part of CommScope's DAA portfolio, which also includes Remote PON, R-PHY Shelf, Video Unified Edge (VUE), ICX Switch family, and hybrid E6000 I-CCAP/CCAP Core products, as well as virtualized products like the E6000 Virtual Core (vCore) and vManager framework of tools.

"As global operators continue to invest in tomorrow's 10G networks, the outside plant will represent a primary budget focus," said Kevin Keefe, SVP and segment leader, network & cloud, CommScope. "We have an unmatched portfolio and breadth of experience in helping global operators deliver next-generation networks reliably and at scale."

"CommScope has one of the largest footprints of optical nodes among cable operators worldwide," said Jeff Heynen, research director, broadband access and home networking, Dell'Oro Group. "As cable operators continue to distribute their access networks and increase both upstream and downstream bandwidth, the RD1322 2x2 RPD is an option, as operators choose from a variety of DAAs and pathways as they bridge to tomorrow's networks."

Viavi has the DAA Test-Ready Certification Program, which it created in partnership with leading DAA vendors, in an effort to help serve providers maintain and troubleshoot the cable plant when deploying certified DAA solutions. The company says there are challenges inherent in R-PHY deployment that can cause hurdles for network testing and maintenance. The physical layer electronics from the headend or hub to the R-PHY node and removal of RF test points from hub sites disrupts current procedures that rely on hub-based monitoring gear such as signal leakage detection, return path monitoring and sweep. Viavi's certification program identifies vendors who support or have implemented a roadmap for CableLabs-specific functions used by the Viavi sweep/ingress solution. Gold partners include Casa Systems, Cisco, Harmonic, Nokia, Teleste and Vecima; Silver partners are CommScope and BKtel.

"Gold certification in the Viavi DAA test-ready ecosystem will help operators deploy the Cisco Remote PHY solution with confidence, achieving increased throughput while assuring quality of service with existing test and maintenance processes and tools," said Tom Kennedy, director of product management, cable access business, Cisco."        

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