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Nokia Revolutionizes Cable Access PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 12:46


Nokia tells us that the next generation of its Unified Cable Access solution will fundamentally change the way cable operators implement a Distributed Access Architecture (DAA). The enhanced, virtualized solution gives cable operators the flexibility to deploy both R-PHY and R-MACPHY devices within the same network and easily switch from one to the other based on their network requirements and strategic direction.

Cable operators are leveraging DAA to increase throughput, reduce costs and accelerate the delivery of new services by moving cable access layer functions that are traditionally placed in the headend and hub sites to the access nodes. To date, cable operators have had to choose between two DAA approaches: R-PHY, which moves only the DOCSIS signal generation (PHY) to the access node; and R-MACPHY, which moves both the PHY and DOCSIS processing (MAC) to the access node. 

Nokia and WOW! tell us that the industry’s first commercial virtualized Distributed Access Architecture (vDAA) deployment has been deployed. Nokia’s Unified Cable Access solution will significantly increase the capacity of WOW!’s existing HFC (Hybrid FiberCoaxial) network, helping the broadband provider meet exploding bandwidth demands of subscribers, adapt to the evolving ways they consume multimedia content and deliver an even better internet experience.

The cable MSO market is on the cusp of a change that will require a new approach to building access networks, one that can more effectively scale to meet the growth of IP video and high-speed data demands.  Traditional HFC networks — originally designed to carry broadcast analog video — are being overwhelmed by traffic from IP video, highspeed data services, cloud computing and other business applications. Facing 40-60 percent average annual compound growth in data capacity requirements, cable operators are seeking new ways to cope with the increasing bandwidth demands being placed on their HFC networks.  

Nokia’s unified cable access solution addresses these challenges, providing a fully distributed and virtualized access architecture that can increase the capacity of existing HFC infrastructures while simultaneously eliminating cable-specific hardware from headends and hubs, significantly reducing space and power requirements. The architecture enables Multiple System Operators (MSOs) to rapidly deploy new services and cost-effectively migrate their networks to a software-driven, all-IP architecture.  

WOW! will deploy Nokia’s Unified Cable Access solution, including the Gainspeed Controller, Gainspeed SC-2D Access Node and Gainspeed Video Engine, to support rapid network expansion as the company continues to bring services to new communities and increase performance for subscribers, ensuring a better internet experience. Once the network is fully deployed, WOW! will be able to effectively eliminate the CMTS/CCAP as a physical box and replace their analog optical transmission with 10Gbps Ethernet.  

This network transformation will enable WOW! to drastically reduce operating expenses while providing the architecture needed to deliver multi-gigabit services to customers using their existing coaxial cable. In deploying the Unified Cable Access solution and virtualized Distributed Access Architecture (vDAA), WOW! is taking a leadership position and demonstrating how innovation can meet the ever-growing and changing needs of customers.

Cash Hagen, chief operations officer of WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone, said: “The Nokia virtualized DAA is a groundbreaking technology that enables us to expand our network faster, deploy services more easily and provide the best internet experience for our customers. As the first to deploy the technology in our network, we are ready to lead the way in providing a new solution to meet increasing bandwidth demands.”

Federico Guillén, president of Nokia’s Fixed Networks Business Group, said: “We are excited to be partnering with an innovative cable company like WOW!  They were the first in the industry to see the potential of virtual DAA and are now the first to deploy it. Nokia’s vDAA approach provides cable MSOs with a cost-efficient upgrade path for their existing DOCSIS networks, delivering the added capacity required while simultaneously simplifying network operations and laying the groundwork for an all-fiber, all-IP network.  

Having to choose one option or the other greatly limits the flexibility to deploy the best technology for each use case.  This has forced many operators to lock in a decision before fully understanding the impacts it could have on their network.  With Nokia’s next generation Unified Cable Access solution, operators are no longer forced to choose between R-PHY and R-MACPHY.  Features of Nokia’s new vDAA include: 

• vCMTS Anywhere – Nokia has virtualized a cable modem termination system (CMTS), which includes the DOCSIS MAC, as a virtual network function (VNF). This provides the flexibility to run the vCMTS anywhere in the network: on the node, or on an off-the-shelf server in the outside plant, hub, headend or data center.  • Universal Node – Cable operators can convert a Gainspeed cable access node from R-PHY to R-MACHPHY, or vice versa, on the fly. This capability lets operators choose the best approach to a node for a given use case. It also enables an operator to seamlessly evolve from an R-PHY to R-MACPHY deployment.    • Unified Control – The Gainspeed access controller can simultaneously support both R-PHY and R-MACPHY nodes, expanding its current cable and fiber unified control capabilities. This helps operators reduce costs and simplify network design by using the same controller to manage all types of Nokia access nodes deployed across HFC and fiber networks   

• Interoperability – Nokia is committed to full solution interoperability and will support any R-PHY or R-MACPHY node as part of its solution.

The industry has been consumed with the R-PHY vs R-MACPHY debate. However, operators’ networks are far from homogeneous. Operators need the flexibility to deploy the right solution in each market. Nokia’s virtualized Distributed Access Architecture offers operators this flexibility by virtualizing the CMTS function, enabling them to place it in the most optimal location – data center, headend, hub, OSP cabinet, or access node. This will enable operators to deploy R-PHY, R-MACPHY, or a combination of both. With the CCAP market projected to exceed $2B in 2021 – largely driven by DAA implementations starting in 2018 – Nokia’s innovative solution will help position the company as a key player in this fast-growing market.”

Federico Guillén noted, “Nokia is changing the game in the cable industry with a vDAA solution that gives operators the flexibility to support both Remote-PHY and Remote-MACPHY approaches. While running the vCMTS on the node as part of a Remote-MACPHY deployment will garner the most significant savings in cost, space and power, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Nokia’s enhanced cable solution gives operators the flexibility to choose from a full range of options across both fiber and cable to meet their unique network needs.”

The new enhancements to Nokia’s Unified Cable Access solution leverage the company’s expertise in virtualization, and are part of its Intelligent Access approach to fixed access, helping make broadband operations faster, better and smarter.