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The theme of this year’s SCTE was “Raising the Bar.” We’ve been busy trying to do exactly that at CommScope.
At the show, we made three important product announcements that demonstrate just how serious we are about giving our customers choice in designing tomorrow’s leading networks. Concurrently, we announced our cutting-edge work with Liberty Global to develop Europe’s first Gigabit Cities, as well as our collaboration with Wyandotte Cable to deliver Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) services in Michigan.
This progress resonated in the many conversations we had around network evolution at SCTE. Indeed, the future of service provider networks, all around the world, is set along a path to 10G. Eventually, they’re all going to get there. But how they do it, and how soon, is one of the biggest determinants in how the market will change.
Speed + Capacity + Latency
A huge trend we’re seeing in this space is the concurrent demand for higher speeds, greater total capacity, and improved latency. As our CTO Morgan Kurk said recently, “It’s the new normal.” It’s not enough for networks to deliver faster speeds; they must be prepared to deliver them at scale and with the lower latency to handle time-sensitive applications (think: medical diagnostics and self-driving cars).
To do all this, operators will need to invest in all parts of the network—from Access Technology (HFC plant) to DOCSIS and PON (passive optical networking) networks, video networks, and software management tools. That’s where CommScope comes in, and it’s where we’re poised to guide our customers through the process.
Since coming together in April, we have proved the tremendous advantage of combining technology leadership from CommScope, ARRIS, and Ruckus in service of our customers. Our portfolio aligns very well with the broad range of new development across distributed access architecture (DAA), virtualization, managed Wi-Fi®, and data center initiatives.
In the Access Technologies business, we’re working to expand the bandwidth of cable from the 1.2 GHz that’s being deployed today to 1.8 GHz and beyond. This requires next-generation amplifiers, optical nodes, and taps, and has the potential to change the capacity of cable networks dramatically.
The cable modem termination system (CMTS) and passive optical network (PON) teams have been innovating new techniques to balance the asymmetry of cable networks. Traditional cable networks have much more downstream bandwidth than upstream, and for 10G to support future network applications, that needs to come closer to parity. We’ve been demonstrating several new technologies to help improve upstream bandwidth, including the dynamic soft Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) capability that we recently announced.
Additionally, the general network architectures are changing. With network migrations, operators are faced with the challenge of moving much of the network intelligence further out into the networks while simultaneously migrating headends from custom-built hardware platforms over to commercial servers running virtual programs. While, over time, these migrations will speed up networks and enhance deployments, during the initial design and implementation phase, they will be very complex. This is where our CommScope Professional Services team is coming in to help operators design, plan, and implement these migrations.
And the focus isn’t just on the consumer services side. We’ve also launched a managed Wi-Fi services initiative to help our partners serve their business customers. We’re employing Ruckus products to provide design, installation, and activation services for Wi-Fi networks. In addition to Wi-Fi, we are also providing turnkey network management services so our cable customers can offer business services using software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN). SD-WAN is a disruptive technology that replaces traditional IP routers with cloud-implemented network management and is a key area of focus for our Professional Services team.
We also have several customer engagements where the combination of ARRIS and CommScope can do more than we could as separate companies. A good example is sports venues and stadiums, where CommScope is providing the physical cabling and networking hardware, but our Network & Cloud segment is also providing Wi-Fi, networking equipment, and installation services. Together, we can provide a comprehensive solution at a better value than our competitors.
Finally, we’re working with hyper-scalers—the world’s largest operators of data centers--to provide services and to upgrade network components to ensure that their data centers can continue to grow rapidly and efficiently.
Looking ahead, we’re very focused on providing the best support for our customers while enabling their success through their existing investments. We’re raising the bar, by offering efficient and dependable innovation that can deliver important gains today while scaling to their networks of the future.