As I began to write this blog, I was reminded that the communications
industry (i.e., the cable television industry) continues to change. Analog
signals have been replaced by digital signals. Coaxial cable has been replaced
by fiber optic cable. Long amplifier cascades have been reduced significantly. It
seems to me that the difficulties we experienced early in the “cowboy days” of
cable remain. Let me explain.
Early in my cable career, I was assigned as the only technician in a
rural system. This rural system (and I mean rural) was unique in how it
operated. It was not uncommon to approach a land owner for permission to enter
their pasture to access an amplifier or power supply just so I could correct an
outage or resolve a service issue. The service area was large, the per mile
house counts were low and there were more animals than people. The system had
no design maps, no engineering specifications and very limited resources. We simply
worked with what was available and the system specifics – amplifier locations,
power supply locations and problem areas were passed down from former
technicians and contract operators.
CLICK TO TWEET: Ryan Hanes explains how service providers can provide both RF and power to a network with a new coaxial cable.
It seemed there was a constant pursuit of signal and/or powering
issues. Often system “redesigns” were completed on paper napkins or pieces of
scrap paper scribbled on the hood of a van. It was not uncommon to redesign or repower
a trunk or distribution area to resolve a problem or correct a flawed initial
design. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
This brings me back to my premise that design and construction problems
of the past seem to have remained constant; however, they differ as to how they
are presented in an HFC environment. For example, when coax was the mainstay of
system construction, powering problems were easily corrected by rerouting power
or by an additional power supply. In current hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) or fiber deep architecture, powering
can be equally problematic. A designed power supply location may be unavailable
or inaccessible, leaving the operator looking for alternatives.
The option of rerouting power or adding an additional power supply may
not be available. In a perfect world, the construction and operation of an HFC
network is a breeze. As the network continues to change, so do the areas in
which they are constructed. Greenfield construction replaces green fields and
brownfield construction now revitalizes existing communities.
CommScope’s PF 625 JCA, identified by its three red tracer stripes, is
a logical solution for the operator when challenged by:
- Fiber deep upgrades
- Transportation projects
- Urban upgrades
- New residential developments
- Limitations of the incumbent power company
- The realization of prior mapping errors
Unlike traditional coax, which can be deployed to provide both RF and
power, PF 625 is designed as a power cable. From the power supply to the power
inserter, PF 625 is available for aerial (PF 625 JCA) or underground (PF 625
JCASS) applications. With a direct current Loop Resistance of 25 percent of
traditional P3 625, PF 625 can be used to deliver alternating current power
from remote power supply locations to a node area or amplifier location without
adversely affecting network performance.
As design technology transitions to Node + 0 and fiber deep
architecture, the current draw of these “super nodes” in a 90-volt network is more
than 2 amps each. In a 60-volt network they exceed 3 amps each – twice the
current draw of existing nodes.
PF 625 is an efficient, low resistance alternative to traditional P3
coax, improving system reliability and expanding the capacity of either 60- or
90-volts power supplies. PF 625 can be integrated into the initial network
design, plant extensions or network upgrades.
As the networks continue to change, the challenges associated with
signal delivery and powering are pretty much the same. Detailed mapping has
replaced handwritten notes, napkins and scrap paper as essential plant
information. Small cities have grown, large cities have gotten bigger and rural
operators are still around. And in these locations, it is likely there is still
livestock keeping watch on the network.