AUGUST 31, 2009 -- Aurora Networks Inc. (search Lightwave for Aurora Networks) has developed a checklist of what it considers five "must-have" components for cable operators who are pondering "green" optical networks.
Aurora points out that, according to the IEEE's Energy Efficient Ethernet Committee, telecommunications network equipment alone accounts for 1 percent of all power consumption in the United States. Also, research from the International Telecommunications Union estimates that the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry accounts for about 3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. These industry statistics, coupled with operator feedback, support the need for a cost-effective transition to environmentally friendly equipment and services, Aurora asserts.
To meet the cable industry's need for a cost-effective transition to environmentally friendly equipment and services, Aurora Networks recommends that operators look at the following criteria when choosing a green optical transport architecture:
- Elimination of RF actives: Cable network architectures that eliminate the need for RF amplifiers in the coaxial plant by pushing fiber deeper realize more than a 70 percent reduction in the number of active devices in the distribution portion of the network. This results in more than a 50 percent drop in power consumption and a significant reduction in maintenance requirements, including truck rolls. Fiber is hundreds of times lower in signal attenuation than coax; thus replacing coax with fiber enables a significantly more efficient network to be built.
- Cut in operating costs: Building a network with fewer active components greatly decreases overall costs in equipment installation and proactive network maintenance. A network architecture with fewer active components can streamline maintenance requirements and accrue additional green benefits, including lower gas consumption and exhaust emissions that result from fewer truck rolls.
- Reduction in the number of homes served per node: Traditional HFC architectures typically serve from 500 to 2,000 homes. Operators can reduce the number of homes served per node for greater network granularity. This not only increases bandwidth per subscriber, but also reduces the number of actives in a network, dramatically increasing network reliability and associated service availability. Ultimately, this results in fewer potential failure points between the headend and the customer; and an outage will affect fewer subscribers.
- Future-proof technology: Digitized return technology supports the transport of legacy upstream services and DOCSIS 3.0 without distance limitations to ensure that any green network upgrades also contain the components for a future-proof network.
- Element management system: With increasing subscriber reliance on higher-revenue services, high network availability is critical and hence operators need to minimize any network downtime. With the latest advances in digital return technology, element management can now be achieved without the need for high-cost transponders, headend and hub hardware, and expensive software.
Incorporating these five components into a green network upgrade can achieve significant cost savings, Aurora asserts. Not surprisingly, the company says its "Fiber Deep" approach meets all five criteria.
For example, Aurora says that power for a typical 70,000-home serving area, with an average of approximately 85 homes per node, costs $75,000 a year with Fiber Deep, compared to approximately $310,000 for a similar-sized HFC network serving 500 homes per node. In this scenario, cable operators can achieve the following benefits, according to Aurora:
- Annual energy cost savings of more than 75 percent for this serving area
- More than 70 percent reduction in plant actives
- More than 65 percent reduction in maintenance and operations costs
Additionally, with recent advances in technology, a Fiber Deep network can be deployed for approximately the same cost as a traditional HFC network, according to the company.
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