Cable operators face a long and challenging road to upgrade their networks to deliver the full promise of DOCSIS 3.1, according to network infrastructure equipment supplier Teleste.
Providing an update on network upgrades and migration to DOCSIS 3.1 at ANGA COM, Teleste’s SVP, video and broadband solutions, Hanno Narjus, said that DOCSIS 3.1, which is now is mature enough to enable the development of products, represents a step change for the industry.
“It offers a Gigabit speed promise. You can do that with DOCSIS 3.0 but probably not at mass-market volume. If the full cable capacity with 3.1 is given to IP traffic, that is what fibre is doing.” Giving the full cable capacity to DOCSIS 3.1 could deliver 10Gbps but in reality video and other traffic will continue to take up space, said Narjus.
He said that 1.2GHz network products are now mature and that DOCSIS 3.1, enabled by 1.2GHz networks, is ready for deployment today. He said that DOCSIS 3.1 will enable the delivery of new services including Internet of Things, UHD, OTT and cloud-based applications.
Narjus said that Teleste’s products are already in use by operators. Public references include Altice Group, with with Teleste published a framework agreement in August last year. “We are helping Altice build 1.2GHz networks with our deep fibre products,” he said.
In March Teleste also signed a deal with Telenet to assits its construction of the latter’s Gigabit network – ‘de grote netwerf’. Antwerp network Integan, serviced by Telenet, is also replacing amps for a 1.2GHz upgrade. “It is still ramping up in terms of project deployments but there are already working networks in Belgium,” said Narjus.
Narjus said Teleste is shipping 1.2GHz products to 10 customers overall. He said that no single case so far had been easy to solve. “You really need to dig deeper and do simulations about how the network performs and how they can handle the load today and 10 years down the road,” he said. “Over the coming years there will be analogue shutdown and gradual migration of DVB traffic to IP, meaning the proportion of IP traffic will be much bigger with a mix of DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 channels using OFDM.”
Narjus said that measurement equipment was now available to test full IP loading with DOCSIS 3.1 and measure the performance of the end-to-end system. He said that Teleste had found different bottlenecks in different networks due to legacy issues. In Belgium the networks were built to 300MHz decades ago, while in the UK the Virgin Media network was built for the most part in the 90s. “Where the bottlenecks are is different. In the UK you have a long drop cable from the last amp to the home. In Belgium there are long cascades and the coax section is long in the cascade and you need to install repeaters. You need the tools to find those bottlenecks,” said Narjus.
Narjus said upgrades will mean that implementation margins will become thin or nonexistent. Operators load targets mean that tolerancies are becoming negligible, he said. This means that fine-tuning and monitoring and management tools are becoming more critical to ensure network performance, he said: “You need to be sure that your networks are tuned precisely.”
Narjus said that operators are currently devoting attention to replacing amplifiers as the first phase of a 1.2GHz upgrade. “That is what we are now seeing. DOCSIS 3.1 and 1.2GHz means you have to replace amplifiers. Operators are starting to prepare projects to replace their amplifiers. The second part [of the upgrade] concerns the optics but that will follow as part of operators’ normal segmentation rollout schedules. They aren’t necessarily going to change the optics as a single project. Then they want to use 1.2GHz components.” He said it would take four to five years to ensure full transparency in the network and that operators would approach the task “headend area by headend area”.
Narjus said there would be a major effort by operators to replace splitters and taps. “The coax part of the network takes years to upgrade and this is why it is starting now,” he said.
Addressing the current industry buzz around a move to a distributed architecture, Narjus said operators faced a choice between deploying remote PHY or going all the way with remote PHY plus remote MAC elements as part of their overall upgrade programme.
Teleste has teamed up with Casa Systems to develop the DAN200 platform for remote PHY nodes. The company has also developed its own DOCSIS access hub family of products for operators who favour remote MAC and PHY together.
The company has also used ANGA COM to launch a 1.2GHz fibre node, the AC9100, which Narjus said would be the workhorse of nodes in the European cable landscape.
Other new products at ANGA COM include a 1.2GHz amplifier, the ACE3, complementing the ACE8, the node product launched by Teleste last year. Teleste is also supplying two lower cost amplifiers, the AC2500 and 1500, which are being deployed by Telenet and Integan, with simpler monitoring but with a Remote Ingress Switch. Narjus said that Teleste also has 1.2GHz headend products in the pipeline.