If you read my CCAP blog from last month, you'll know that cable television and residential broadband network operators speak in the acronyms. So, there are plenty of them in this blog posting. Let me refresh you with some of them.
CCAP (converged cable access platform) is designed to help cable operators who are seeking a cost-effective strategy for migrating from conventional MPEG-based video delivery to IP (Internet Protocol) video transport with the ability to combine data and video delivery. PON (passive optical network) is a telecommunications network that uses point-to-multipoint fiber to the premises in which unpowered optical splitters are used to enable a single optical fiber to serve multiple premises.
Now that we're all caught up, let's get to the meat of my blog. To those of you who believe CCAP is a large box that saves the cable operators on operational expenditures and consolidates data, voice and video, I say you are correct. It is more than just a box; it is an industry evolution. As the industry continues to evolve, we must ask ourselves where are we headed.
Our view of CCAP is one that is made up of various modular building blocks. Some are specific to cable operators and some are not. The building blocks specific to operators are:
- video processing
- radio frequency modulator
- the control plane
The non-operator specific CCAP blocks are the IP control plane and a typical subscriber management piece.
Distributed access architectures are one of three evolutionary steps of CCAP. The first step is distributed access, which slices the CCAP chassis into two parts and connects them with a simple Layer 1 Ethernet pipe. You may ask why it must be sliced like this. The connection allows operators to move away from using expensive analog transmitters and receivers in the hub. By moving the physical layer components to the field, the hub now has more space, uses less power and produces less heat - thereby reducing an operator's operational expenditures. Intelligent nodes in the fields are simple to use and eventually brings fiber closer to the home.
CommScope's CCAP chassis allows operators the flexibility to move to this architecture from day one by using our PON blades, which can be found in either a EPON or GPON version.
IP in and out; that's another evolution that will take place once CCAP is firmly embedded with operators. IP-video 'out' allows content to seamlessly traverse between devices. CCAP allows for this evolution by making a call to vendors to include PON in their chassis. CommScope's chassis has both EPON and GPON variants allowing a seamless transition to an IP solution.
The third evolution could include a more hybrid approach - EPoC (EPON over coax). This proposed Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standard aims to bring PON speeds to hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks. Many believe that EPoC's initial focus will be business services; however, it could end up in residential networks as well. One advantage EPoC supporters tout is the ability to be deployed piecemeal, wherever it is needed.
To remain current and ready to offer high value, high bandwidth services, the deployment of CCAP with distributed access architectures, PON and EPoC, is crucial to cable operators. As CCAP evolves, we will be ready to support these new technologies.
What are your CCAP evolution/deployment plans?