The future of broadband networks is
10G. But the most exciting developments of 2020 will be real-world improvements
to speed, capacity, and efficiency coming to networks around the world.
This year saw the beginnings of multi-gigabit
speeds, network virtualization and automation, and software-defined networks
that push computing ever closer to the premises. These offer great promise for
tomorrow’s smart home services, smart cities, enterprise networks, and more.
In 2020, four key trends will move us
closer to those goals while making meaningful improvements in the way that
operators manage their networks and consumers experience broadband.
DOCSIS 3.1 Momentum
We’re at a tipping point with DOCSIS
3.1 (D3.1). In particular, we’re seeing enough global mainstream deployment of D3.1
modems that it’s creating an effective value proposition for reciprocal network
upgrades among many operators.
CLICK TO TWEET:??CommScope's Tom Cloonan provides you with four key trends that will improve the way that operators manage their networks and consumer broadband experience in 2020.?? ??
What’s exciting about the coming year
is that this growth in D3.1 modems arrives in tandem with economies of scale
driving down the price of D3.1 network upgrades. The result: Deployments are
really heating up, especially in North America and Europe, which have high
penetration rates of D3.1 modems. Current compound annual growth rates of nearly
20% in the upstream and 40% in the downstream mean we’re at the point where
both can benefit significantly from D3.1. This is the foundation for the really
exciting consumer experiences that everyone’s talking about around CES (e.g.
VR, AI, etc.).
The biggest implication for next year
is the boost to upstream bandwidth capacity. The upstream has become
increasingly relevant amidst the growth in IoT and Smart Homes (think: smart
video cameras, video doorbells, etc.). Bigger is always the future. And to
address that demand, providers will initially deploy D3.1 across OFMDA channels
and the upstream. Later, we’ll have spectrum splits in the 85Mhz and 204Mhz
bands. And finally, we’ll move to next-generation technologies like Extended
Spectrum DOCSIS and Full-Duplex DOCSIS.?
Intelligent and Automated Networks
One of the biggest pieces of feedback
we hear from global tier 1 operators is the need for better tools to monitor
and diagnose issues in the network and address them before they impact service
quality. By creating a feedback loop that both proactively measures and steers
around problems, we can achieve much smarter networks that deliver very
reliable services. It’s all about the quality of the consumer experience.?
This underscores the opportunity to improve
customer loyalty, reduce the cost of operating the network, more accurately plan
capacity, and make more informed decisions about network evolution (like when
to do node splits or make infrastructure purchases). We can improve the entire
logistics of operation. And for consumers, it’s clearly reflected in better
performance and fewer outages.
This area is still in its infancy,
but it has the potential to fundamentally change the way that operators manage
and design their networks. For example, there’s a goldmine of information
available in the CCAP about customers’ quality of experience. At CommScope, we’re
leveraging the data we have here to refine solutions and deliver meaningful
data and analytics—giving artificial intelligence and machine learning processes
the foundation for informed operation. We weren’t the first to do it, but we’re
Virtualization has gotten a lot of
attention lately—because with open APIs, a regular flow of information to the
back office, and more distributed processing, operators can take advantage of
Moore’s Law improvements in servers and more quickly and efficiently respond to
We’ll see many operators turn on
network virtualization next year. There are already a number of trials and
deployments taking place and new systems coming online every month. What’s
becoming increasingly important in their decision making is how to parse
through the broad crop of open source codebases and organizations, especially
integration into existing network infrastructure. This puts a much greater emphasis
on partnering with well-informed, reliable vendor teams with access to
solutions based on field-hardened code.
CommScope, for example, has
finely-tuned solutions across a broad portfolio that leverages the code we’ve been
validating for over 20 years. This puts us in a unique position to offer
virtualized solutions for operators: By many comparisons, we’re several years ahead
when comparing the maturity level of products. We can offer solid, stable
performance where others can’t, simply because we have intimate knowledge of
the service provider networking space, and we’ve been field testing solutions
around the globe for longer than anyone else.
The progression of virtualization has
followed a fairly intuitive path so far. We’ve seen network management tools
virtualized to a large extent—which makes sense, considering how they’re
layered onto existing investments. Today, we’re actively virtualizing
components of video delivery, offloading a lot of the processing to the cloud.
And next year, we’re going to see the steady growth of DOCSIS virtualization in
both Core and MAC Core RPD deployments.
For leading MSOs looking to bring
these capabilities into their network, choosing a single vendor with the expertise
and solution set to carry out the deployment is crucial to success. Later on,
down the line, they’ll have a greater ability to mix and match solutions across
vendors as the quality and reliability of interop solutions continue to improve.
Distributed Access Architecture Shake
2020 is going to be a good year for Distributed
Access Architectures (DAA).
Many operators have chosen to move
forward with DAA, and now they’re picking their approach. We’ll see both Remote-PHY
Devices (RPD) and Remote MAC-PHY Devices (RMD) rolling out with lead operators.
But we’re seeing service providers split between both camps, and will continue
to see this for some time as the networks shake out.
At the moment, the largest
considerations for service providers are simplicity, latency, and processing
requirements. At its core, RMD represents a simpler, lower latency solution,
while RPD has the advantage of leveraging existing resources in the headend for
mac processing, keeping nodes simpler and with lower power budgets.?
On the Passive Optical Networks (PON)
side of things, we’re actively deploying Remote Optical Line Terminals (R-OLT),
which is pushing processing closer to the customer edge. This kind of
distributed architecture is a key component of network evolution that is
creating the foundation for tomorrow. All this is leading to symmetrical
The future is fast and connected, and
2020 will be an exciting year to see many talked-about technologies finally
make it to leading networks around the world.