Answers to Key DOCSIS 3.1 Migration Questions

Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker-Sr. Director, CMTS Product Marketing, ARRIS

With more headlines and data pointing to consumers’ increasing desire for TV Anywhere, multiscreen services, OTT and IP video, we know it’s crucial for service providers to look for ways to further optimize their network.

More providers than ever are transitioning to higher-speed, wideband DOCSIS 3.0 technology. In fact, DOCSIS 3.0 device shipments are expected to comprise nearly 90 percent of worldwide cable CPE shipments in 2014. And the good news is that by taking full advantage of DOCSIS 3.0, service providers not only optimize the performance of their networks, but also prepare those networks for a smooth migration to DOCSIS 3.1.

So where exactly are we in regards to the DOCSIS 3.1 migration? How do cable providers get there? And perhaps the question on most everyone’s mind…is it possible to ensure a smooth migration path? Thankfully, the short answer to the last question is “yes.”  But let’s address these questions in greater detail – as well as some additional key points related to DOCSIS 3.1.

First, what exactly will DOCSIS 3.1 do for cable providers? Under appropriate conditions, DOCSIS 3.1 will enable providers to achieve up to a 50 percent increase in data throughput in the same spectrum supporting speeds up to 10 Gbps in the downstream and 1+ Gbps in the upstream.

DOCSIS 3.1 enables expanded speeds through the use of OFDM, which uses multiple sub-carriers in channels up to 192 MHz in width, and Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) forward error correction, which is more efficient than the Reed-Solomon FEC codes used in early DOCSIS versions. The combination of OFDM and LDPC allows providers to use higher modulation orders – 1024, 2048 and 4096 QAM – and enable maximum throughput across various HFC plant conditions.

So where do we stand in the DOCSIS 3.1 migration timeline? DOCSIS 3.1 specifications were released in October 2013, and many vendors are currently developing compatible products. DOCSIS 3.1 enables providers to provide compelling service offerings in a dynamic, competitive marketplace. They can meet the growing demand for managed and OTT IP video services as well as data and traditional video services, such as VOD and nDVR.

The expectation is DOCSIS 3.1 testing will begin later this year and into 2015. Deployments will more than likely begin in late 2015 and early 2016. But it’s crucial for providers making significant investments in their deployed DOCSIS 3.0 CCAP technology to offer software upgrades to key aspects of DOCSIS 3.1. This will enable them to offer enhanced downstream speeds beyond what is possible with the bonding of multiple 6 or 8 MHz channels.

Maybe by now you’re wondering how one might approach this migration path? Thankfully, the migration to DOCSIS 3.1 can be a multi-phased approach making it easier to adapt to the change.

It’s good to know from the start that the migration can be done separately on the downstream and upstream channels. This allows for quicker expansion on the congested downstream channels using some of the DOCSIS 3.1 features. From there, upstream support can be implemented later when additional upstream bandwidth is necessary.

Additionally, providers can start using DOCSIS 3.1 on their existing spectrum in 96MHz or 192MHz blocks and then later adapt their plant and expand to use the higher downstream frequencies up to 1.2 GHz or 1.7 GHz defined in the standards. This approach can make use of “holes” in existing spectrum, and support the gradual insertion of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems into their systems.

One of the operating modes that can aid in the migration to DOCSIS 3.1 is enabled by turning off a block of OFDM sub-carriers in the OFDM channel and operating a single-carrier QAM channel within that spectrum.  DOCSIS 3.1 modems and DOCSIS 3.0 modems will be able to operate in the same serving group with the DOCSIS 3.1 modems using both the OFDM and SC-QAM channels and DOCSIS 3.0 modems operating in single-carrier QAM channels.

Finally, the DOCSIS 3.1 migration is made easier and more cost-effective if the same CCAP line cards being used for DOCSIS 3.0 services can be upgraded to support 3.1 via a software upgrade. This saves the provider from an expensive line card replacement. It is also important to have a CCAP with the necessary capacity in the switch fabric, mid-plane, power and cooling. Ultimately, the overall system should scale to beyond 1 Terabit/s of throughput with the appropriate QoS control, traffic managers and network-side interfaces.

In summary, the DOCSIS 3.1 migration aims to be fairly straightforward because of both backward compatibility with DOCSIS 3.0 modems and gateways AND the ability to preserve today’s CCAP investments. Testing of compatible cable modems and gateways will commence later this year followed by upgrades to deployed CCAP systems. All of these initiatives strengthen the cable providers’ position to optimize the performance of their systems to support the growing demand for IP video, data and traditional video services.

We’re not too far away, and I’m looking forward to sharing more updates as we continue down the path to DOCSIS 3.1.

Getting the Most out of Your DOCSIS 3.0 Network: Dynamic Load Balancing of Bonded Modems

Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker-Sr. Director, CMTS Product Marketing, ARRIS

We’re using more bandwidth than ever. And that amount is growing by nearly 50 percent per year.

The reason is that we’re streaming more content, on more devices, from more sources than ever – whether it’s movies on our tablets, TV on our smartphones, or files from the cloud.

With no slowdown in sight and new services coming onboard every year, cable providers face a unique challenge to meet tomorrow’s demands on today’s networks.

One answer is wideband DOCSIS 3.0 technology, using dynamic load balancing across available wideband channels.

This can be a nearly universal solution, because most cable providers in North America and many around the world have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 capable CMTS/CCAP networks, and because DOCSIS 3.0 devices – like cable modems and video gateways – are on track to constitute 90 percent of all worldwide cable CPE shipments in 2014.

DOCSIS 3.0 Channel Bonding

This widespread adoption of DOCSIS 3.0 network and CPE components enable significant bandwidth increases from technology called “channel bonding,” which combines multiple channels (downstream, upstream, or both) into one, providing multiplicative bandwidth gains resulting in speeds beyond 1 Gbps downstream and 300 Mbps upstream.

DOCSIS 3.0 Dynamic Loading

Optimizing bandwidth from DOCSIS 3.0 networks requires dynamically load balancing channel-bonded modems. These modems have a particular set of channels in which they can transmit and receive upstream and downstream data – Transmit Channel Set (TCS) and Receive Channel Set (RCS) respectively. Users’ bonded DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems often are spread across these channel sets.

Dynamic loading involves periodically checking and comparing the utilization of available channel sets and moving modems to alternative upstream or downstream channel sets with lighter loads.

Moving modems from one channel set to another falls under a function known as Dynamic Bonding Change (DBC), which performs the move in hitless (no loss of registration) operation to eliminate network interruption.

DOCSIS 3.0 Static Load Balancing

Static load balancing is an alternative to dynamic load balancing, but inferior for network optimization, as it involves the CMTS/CCAP assigning a bonded DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem to a TCS and RCS at the time of registration based on modem count vs. channel utilization.

The Path to DOCSIS 3.1

Dynamic load balancing of bonded cable modems allows a provider to stay ahead of exploding demand for both managed and OTT video over IP services.  And, the expansion and efficient use of the DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding will also enable a smooth path to DOCSIS 3.1 and the ability to compete against fiber-deep initiatives by bonding together DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 channels.

Stay tuned for more on the migration path to DOCSIS 3.1…

ARRIS TO OFFER INDUSTRY’S FIRST DOCSIS 3.1 DEMO ON A SHIPPING CCAP, AT THE 2014 CABLE SHOW

ARRIS will show the industry’s first DOCSIS 3.1 demonstration on a shipping CCAP – our E6000 Converged Edge Router (CER) at this year’s Cable Show in Los Angeles.

This marks a new level of network scalability. ARRIS is focused on inventing the future, so we made sure that our current solutions could keep up with tomorrow’s demands. The E6000 CER is E6000_360__1a prime example.

It’s the industry’s leading CCAP platform, driving the shift to IP through our flagship customers around the world and a footprint of over 2 million subscribers. And now, it’s the first to demonstrate the expanded bandwidth capabilities of DOCSIS 3.1.

Our Cable Show demo will highlight the E6000 CER’s ability to run full CCAP with video and DOCSIS services converged on the same F connector and interoperability between current DOCSIS 3.0 SC-QAMs (24 DOCSIS bonded channels and 8 video channels)  and a DOCSIS 3.1 OFDM block.

More bandwidth means better services. The E6000 CER puts tomorrow’s complex multiscreen experiences, high-density video formats, and converged video and data services well within reach.

Join us in booth #1537, April 29th- May 1st, to check out our E6000 CER running DOCSIS 3.1 and see how we’re transforming the future of entertainment and communications.

Extending Video Delivery Leadership with E6000 at Liberty Global

Liberty Global, the world’s largest cable provider, is deploying our E6000 Converged Edge Router (CER) to its leading German subsidiary, Unitymedia KabelBW—enabling enhanced and uninterrupted entertainment and broadband services with 1 Gbps capacity.

Liberty Global is dramatically expanding ARRIS’s E6000 CER footprint, which already covers two million E6000_360__1subscribers from flagship customers around the globe—including Comcast, GCI, WOW!, and SK Broadband—with more global wins to be announced in the coming months.

It’s no surprise that Motley Fool named ARRIS the leading force in the industry’s shift to IP video delivery.

The E6000’s growing popularity echoes the exponential uptick in consumer demand for more video on more devices in more places:

Our global leadership in CCAP not only positions ARRIS to capitalize on the impending sea change in IP video delivery—it ensures that our customers, like Liberty Global, are ahead of the current.

Cable Congress countdown: 5 Questions with…. Cornel Ciocirlan

It’s Cable Congress week and also the week that The Euro50 award winners will be announced – we’ve got our fingers crossed for our EMEA CTO, Cornel Ciocirlan who has been nominated in the Technology Leader category. The Euro50 celebrates those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and vision in their fields and made a significant contribution to the strength of their organisation or the industry itself.

CTO, EMEA, ARRIS

Cornel Ciocirlan, CTO, EMEA, ARRIS

Being shortlisted in the Euro 50 is a great achievement, congratulations. Can you give another example of one of your greatest achievements?

I am most proud of having contributed to the success of DOCSIS® and PacketCable™ over the last 10 years in the European cable industry. In terms of my role at ARRIS so far, my greatest achievement has been helping to make the E6000 the best CCAP platform on the market for European cable operators.

Europe is an exciting market for ARRIS – what’s happening right now that’s keeping  you busy?

Service providers across the board are working to maintain high speed leadership. On the cable side, operators are deploying CCAP and are focused on DOCSIS 3.1 readiness, while telcos are aggressively investing in network upgrades to sustain ultra broadband (500Mbit+) services.

In a world of ubiquitous ultra broadband availability, user experience is fast-becoming the key differentiator – and providers are not only facing their traditional competitors, but also competition from the consumer electronics industry and over-the-top (OTT) content delivery services. The abilities to access content anywhere – with a simple and consistent UI – and to discover content and interact with content are crucial building blocks for a great user experience.

What are the top 3 technology developments that you’re working on right now at ARRIS?

  • The introduction of DOCSIS 3.1 in the next 1-2 years
  • The evolution towards open, flexible software frameworks that service providers can build their own differentiated UX on top of – RDK is one example that is gaining traction quickly
  • The impact of software-defined networks (SDN) and cloud technologies into the access network, along with the service delivery infrastructure

Innovation is a word used fairly often in our industry. How would you define it?

In my eyes, innovation means finding a new way to connect the dots that makes people’s life simpler and easier.

What’s the best piece of career advise you’ve been given?

If you don’t like what you’re doing, stop doing it!

Countdown to Cable Congress: Q&A with Ayham Al-Banna

It’s that time of the year again…Cable Congress is just around the corner, and ARRIS Systems Architect Ayham Al-Banna will be on stage discussing the evolution of HFC. We caught up Ayham to get his insights on HFC, future trends…and even what new industry terms we should add to our vocabulary to show we’re in the know.

We often hear about key trends including ‘on-demand,’ ‘connected life,’ ‘ultra-fast,’ and ‘multiscreen.’ In your mind, what are a couple of trends that will become louder and more discussed in 2014?

One trend to watch is the “snappiness” on the Internet, which describes the rate at which the needed information is provided in a short burst. You’ll also hear more and more about “interactive gadgets,” such as your connected refrigerator notifying you that you are low on tomatoes or your pantry asking you to bring coffee beans on your way home.

What are some of the biggest technological advancements driving new and improved services for the consumer?

When we discuss new technologies driving new and improved services, it’s essential to mention advancements within Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), DOCSIS 3.1, digital optics, remote gadgets and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH). With that being said, the consumer is indeed the focus of our innovation and delivering a better user experience. True, people are consuming more media on more devices in more places, but we’re also seeing increased demand for timely and relevant experiences, better content recommendations, and, of course, higher-quality programming. These desires speak directly to what ARRIS does best.

What is one of the biggest technological advancements that may be transparent to the average consumer?

Service providers have a multitude of technologies that are transparent to the consumer surrounding faster services and a better user experience. For example, the average consumer might not know whether service providers are using integrated or remote CCAP as well as DOCSIS 3.1 (D3.1) technologies to create a more seamless user experience. CCAP and D3.1 are quickly transforming the consumer’s experience in a very positive way, and they will only make things that much better in the years ahead.

How does an organization like ARRIS embed innovation into its culture?

ARRIS continuously keeps its engineers at all levels in the company tied to the newly-evolving technologies. To ensure engineers are staying ahead of industry trends, groups within the company get together frequently to research topic and provide monthly tutorial that are accessible to everyone. ARRIS also encourages engineers to explore new ideas and prototype them by providing the necessary tools and resources.

What keeps you passionate about this industry?

The continuous innovation in this industry amazes me. This industry evolved to offer people more affordable, faster and better services. I have the opportunity to see the direct impact of what we research, architect, design and build on people’s lives. I am proud of this work, especially as I see the positive impact it has in different fields from hospitals to hotels to connected cars to connected homes. This industry is addictive!

Make sure to stop by Ayham’s panel on the evolution of HFC on March 14 if you’re at Cable Congress. We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam.

From Atlanta to Vegas to Mumbai to Hangzhou – ARRIS is Everywhere

We’ve had a great time this week at SCTE, but can’t forget that we’re also front-and-center at TelcoVision today; SCaT in Mumbai starting tomorrow and have been taking part in the ICTC in China. Reality is delivering your media, your way; transforming the entertainment experience; and powering a smarter network are areas every service provider is discussing – whether it’s here in the US or in India.

In fact, at TelcoVision Keith Kelly has a keynote this morning addressing “Telco Video: Myths, Realities and What Comes Next” and Brooke Longdon will speak about how the cloud and virtualization is impacting your business model today and in the future.  And at ICTC in Hangzhou, Dr Qiang Zhou won a bronze award for his paper addressing CCAP.

If you’re at TelcoVision, stop by and visit us in the Executive Boardroom(Level 2) or if you’re heading to SCaT in Mumbai we’ll be in HALL B, Stand #B12-15. We’d love to connect.

Powering Smarter IP Networks

ARRIS is focused on delivering solutions to optimize bandwidth for more video and content across a plethora of connected devices. That’s why we’re excited about today’s announcements with WOW! and GCI.

Both have made our E6000 Converged Edge Route a core component for their ever-growing network requirements. Our own Todd Kessler discusses E6000 and what it can do for you.

The world’s largest to small and mid-sized service providers are deploying E6000 to deliver these game-changing entertainment and business service experiences. For those of you here at SCTE, check out our E6000 at booth #868.

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