Survey Pinpoints What’s Hot In Cable Tech

On Tap: Lots More DOCSIS, Distributed Architectures, Beefier Upstreams

“Massive” deployments of DOCSIS and a shift to remote and distributed network architectures are some of the top trends among cable operators, IHS found in a survey of 12 service providers across the globe that represent the bulk of industry revenues and capex.

Per the IHS Distributed Access Strategies and Vendor Leadership: Global Cable Operator Survey, 42% of those surveyed plan to deploy a distributed access architecture (DAA) by 2017, a move that would follow the recent issuance of new CableLabs specs that attempt to bring multi-vendor interoperability into play as MSOs look to punch up the capacities of their HFC plant and to take full advantage of DOCSIS 3.1.

Operators told the firm that their primary choices for distributed access are R-PHY, R-MACPHY and R-CCAP.

"Cable operators are clearly committed to both DOCSIS 3.1 and distributed access architectures to increase bandwidth in their access networks,” Jeff Heynen, IHS’s research director for broadband access and pay TV, said in a statement. “Though there is no consensus yet on which distributed access technology most will use, there's no question they will distribute some portion of the DOCSIS layer to their optical nodes.”  

The survey also found, on average, that MSOs expect about a third of their residential subscribers to be passed by DOCSIS 3.1-enabled headends by April 2017.

And operators are also looking to fatten up their traditionally lithe upstream spectrum. By 2017, nearly half of the respondents said they will have return path (upstream) frequencies of 86MHz -100MHz, while a quarter will have 101MHz-200MHz of return path spectrum.  That’s a huge leap, considering that most HFC plant in North America supports an upstream swath of 5 MHz - 42 MHz.

IHS said the survey, conducted between April and June of 2015, included 12 service providers, with 75% of them being the primary decision maker or having a lot of influence. Respondents also represented 87% of 2014 cable capex, and 93% of global cable revenue, IHS said, noting that 59% involved North American SPs, versus 33% from the EMEA region and 8% from Asia Pacific.