The Network Technology Strategist

The Latest in SDN, NFV, DOCSIS, FTTH, and Carrier Ethernet

Category: SDN

SCTE Expo 2015 Wrap Up: SDN, NFV Gain Momentum with MSOs. DOCSIS 3.1, EPON, and XGS-PON on the Horizon

The SCTE’s CableTec Expo wrapped up late last week in New Orleans, LA, and although cliche, it is safe to say that it proved to be one of the best cable technology shows in history. The cable industry is seeing remarkable growth in network demand, as a result of Moore’s Law bringing about better, faster, and cheaper devices and the advent of higher quality over the top content and apps available online. This increased demand is rallying the cable industry’s best and brightest to find ways to future-proof their networks and make services easier to provision, troubleshoot, and maintain. SDN, NFV, DOCSIS3.1, and FTTH technologies including EPON and XGS-PON all made the highlight reel last week as important tools to tackle the increasing demand in light of the slower increase in overall revenue.

SDN and NFV are Gaining Momentum in Cable

SDN and NFV have been a significant topic of discussion at several service providers over the last 18 months, and cable MSOs are now looking seriously at utilizing this new technology as a way to automate, improve OpEx, and reduce network complexity. Jeff Finkelstein, Executive Director of Network Strategy at Cox, said on a panel during the show that Cox is seeing a 53% growth in network demand each year, and that SDN and NFV is one of the only ways to effectively manage that demand (more here). He sighted bringing functionality into the core of the network from the access and subscriber edge as two areas of interest. The panel also discussed virtualization of residential gateways and cloud DVR as important objectives that will allow for reduced operational expenditures, easier troubleshooting, and additional service offerings. Craig Cowden of Bright House Networks indicated that his MSO has SDN technology in the lab this year, and is planning on rolling it out sometime in 2016.

DOCSIS 3.1 is on the Horizon

It’s no surprise that improved speeds and feeds facilitated by the next revision of DOCSIS technology was one of the

DOCSIS 3.1 technology enables gigabit service delivery to homes and businesses

highlights of the Expo. With gigabit services cropping up throughout telecommunications footprints worldwide, cable operators and vendors alike have been hard at work on the implementation of new technologies to offer competitive connectivity. Vendors displayed the latest DOCSIS 3.1 capable modems and CMTSs, which are scheduled to be available en masse sometime next year. DOCSIS 3.1 is the latest specification in an evolving suite of technologies that facilitate high speed Internet and data connectivity to homes and businesses and boasts up to 10 gigabits per second downstream and 1 gigabit per second upstream capacity. To fully realize these speeds, operators must make changes to the passive devices in their networks, including the optical nodes, filters, and splitters in their networks; a task that involves the significant use of human capital and will likely cause service interruption during the upgrade process.

EPON, XGS-PON Emerging as viable alternative to DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades

In addition to the DOCSIS 3.1 fanfare, several access vendors showcased the latest in FTTH technology at the CableTec Expo last week. Speeds from 1 to 10 Gbps downstream and 1 to 10 Gbps upstream were demonstrated on the floor by technologies including EPON and FSAN’s latest, XGS-PON . Deployment of Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology offers MSOs the flexibility to upgrade their network to a more future-proof medium without impacting existing subscribers. The downside of deploying FTTH comes in the construction costs associated with bringing fiber to each home in a neighborhood or the entire footprint. However, many cable operators are exploring plans to deploy fiber in new developments and in areas where demand justifies its use. Because many MSOs already have fiber to nodes in each neighborhood, commonly known as a hybrid fiber-coax network (HFC), the use of wavelength multiplexing technologies such as CWDM or DWDM, and other fiber management tools allow them to deploy fiber access without completely overbuilding their footprint.

To conclude, increased network demand is driving a transformation in cable, and the industry came together last week in New Orleans to share ideas, strategies, and tools for rising to the challenge. SDN and NFV will simplify the edge, reduce OpEx, and automate delivery of new service offerings. DOCSIS 3.1 and FTTH technologies such as EPON, GPON, and XGS-PON will compete for network upgrade dollars in 2016, and each offer their own benefits and drawbacks. With the above in mind, it is always great to see our industry’s best minds come together and collaborate on ways to offer better services for the consumer.

New Post on ADTRAN Blog – 3 Solutions Service Providers are Using in Next-Gen Networks

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my personal blog, as I’ve been spending considerable time blogging at Here’s my latest post:

The Intersection of SDN and NFV from a Service Provider’s Perspective

This post on summarizes the intersection of SDN and NFV with topology diagrams and examples from presentations by AT&T at the NFV World Congress Event this month. Automation in service delivery and integration with existing billing and back office systems remain key selling points for SDN and NFV with service providers. It’s becoming apparent that a hierarchy of controller and orchestration functions will be necessary to implement an SDN and / or NFV enabled network across a carrier’s footprint. Examples of these include local and global SDN controllers that manage connectivity and cloud orchestrators that manage compute resource allocation.

NFV Report from SDxCentral

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I ran across an excellent report on NFV from my friends at SDxCentral today. It contains a great overview of NFV and discusses solutions from some of the current vendors in the NFV space. You can download your copy here: 

What is Software Defined Networking (SDN)?

SDXCentral has a great article on the definition of SDN. Check it out here.

AT&T Sets Goal to Convert 5% of Network Functions to NFV by EOY 2015

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AT&T’s John Donovan indicated in a recent blog post that they would virtualize 5% of their network functions by the end of the year. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) has the promise of easing operational pains and cutting costs for major service providers, and has been a large topic of discussion in many industry labs for the past 18 months. The rollout of NFV has been slightly slower than expected, as it represents a significant change to deployment models in place for several years. Most importantly, by changing the topology and deployment of devices supporting telecommunications services and applications, new service assurance challenges present themselves. In an upcoming post, I will examine several considerations for service assurance with NFV.