Sources at Aurora Networks, the optical communications technology company focused on cable operators, recently told Lightwave they see trends within the cable MSO market that indicate significant revenue opportunities for their customers – and, hopefully, themselves. However, seizing those opportunities could prove challenging, the Aurora sources warned.
Aurora’s John Dahlquist, vice president of marketing, and Dawn Emms, director, marketing, highlighted five areas where cable MSOs must focus to compete for new business opportunities:
- Increase bandwidth per subscriber
- Improve quality of service and quality of experience
- Address competitive threats, including over-the-top (OTT) video
- Migrate to IP
- Make their networks cloud-friendly
Tackling the first area adequately will lay the foundation for meeting the challenges of the others, Dahlquist and Emms said. The two see cable MSOs pushing fiber deeper into their networks and reducing the number of subscribers served per node – from a previously typical figure of around 500 to as few as 125, they say – to unlock greater bandwidth capacity in their hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks.
To further improve capacity, cable operators also are accelerating their deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 as well as investigating modulation formats like 64 QAM. The evolution from DOCSIS 2.0 to DOCSIS 3.0 is increasing the importance of digital return path technology, the Aurora sources said. Meanwhile, a modulation switch can have an effect on the optical aspects of the HFC network as well. A move to 64 QAM likely would increase the requirement for distributed feedback lasers without temperature stabilization in place of the Fabry-Perots that are common in some networks now, they added.
The other trends also could affect optical technology requirements in cable MSO networks, Dahlquist and Emms said. For example, the evolution towards IP-friendly networks is driven not only by a desire to support packet-based residential devices but also business services, including wireless backhaul. As cable operators improve their offerings for the latter customer demographic, they’ll likely demand more WDM capabilities, Dahlquist and Emms said.
Cable MSOs also will require entirely new platforms, judging by the work Cable Labs is doing on specification development for a Common Multiple Access Platform (CMAP). The CMAP architecture will combine the functions of the CMTS and the edge QAM for all narrowcast and broadcast digital services in cable MSO next-generation access architectures and promises to shape how IP services are implemented within a DOCSIS 3.0 environment, the Aurora sources said.
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