There is no doubt that 2014 was an interesting year in the broadband and cable television industry. We saw merger announcements here in the United States and in Europe that could change the face of the industry as we know it. On the technology side, we witnessed the need for operators to keep up with the continuing surge in data, thanks to over-the-top (OTT) video services as well as the increasing amount of mobile devices accessing their networks. Operators realized there is a need to evolve their networks from a hybrid fiber/coax networks (HFC) platform to a converged optical platform, delivering Ethernet/IP-based services, to keep up with the necessary bandwidth.
So what does that mean for 2015? Network evolution will vary from operator to operator and I believe there will be several key factors that will continue to drive the operators’ needs to evolve their networks.
Continued Fiber-to-the-Home Push
I believe that operators will need to continue to push fiber deeper into their networks—all the way to the home—and they are investing in the infrastructure needed to accomplish this. They are seeing increased value in deploying microducts, microcables, Passive Optical Network (PON) and Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG) solutions to handle the increasing demands in multi-dwelling units (MDUs). These fiber projects will be seen initially in MDU deployments, then quickly turn to greenfield expansions. This significant increase and interest in RFoG will enable operators to bridge the gap from an HFC network to an all-optical network.
DOCSIS 3.1 Trials
The industry will continue to trial Data Over Cable Service Infrastructure Specification (DOCSIS) 3.1 technology so operators can maximize bandwidth across the available spectrum. With the increase in DOCSIS 3.1 trials, movement to a mid-frequency split of 85 MHz will drive new solutions to the market to give operators more interactive upstream capability. These solutions include new RFoG micronodes and drop amplifiers with expanded upstream spectrum capability.
Tier 3 Network Evolution
While a lot of the top multiple-service operators (MSOs) are making waves with their technology upgrades and deployments, smaller operators and MSOs will also see the value in fiber and technology rollouts. They are seeing the value of deploying fiber optical systems with RFoG and PON to reduce the noise conflicts from egress and ingress with LTE networks on shared frequencies.
Subscribers are used to watching what they want, where they want and when they want. It is up to operators to maintain and expand their networks to keep up with their subscribers’ bandwidth and data demands.