The Light Reading CNG 2019 event was chock full of excellent speakers – lots of very interesting presentations, panels, and fireside chats. 

Before the event even got started Ciena and Light Reading held a workshop covering various aspects of moving to a more Adaptive NetworkTM. One highlight was the panel on Distributed Access Architectures (DAA), Fiber Deep and the need for an Adaptive Network with participants from Comcast, Stofa, CableLabs and Ciena – this included discussion on the Converged Interconnect Network (CIN) and how this is different to the networks the cable MSOs are accustom to supporting. The CIN is digital and large scale requiring packet-optical, coherent and intelligent automation technologies.

There were a few topics that stood out as common threads throughout the event:

1. The cable industry’s 10G initiative was announced at CES 2019 in Jan – and the momentum on this topic continued here and dominated discussions.

  • It is a collection of technologies – Phil McKinney, the CEO of CableLabs explained that 10G is a collection of technologies to enable 10G and enhance the customer experience. These technologies will include full duplex DOCSIS, digital fiber in the HFC, coherent optics and others. 
  • An architecture for years to come – 10G is a milestone on an evolutionary path. It may be 1G in 2020, 4G in the mid-20’s, and 10G toward the end of the decade.
  • Killer apps for 10G are to be determined – as one conference participant asked – “Most consumers don’t need 1G, why are we now talking about 10G?”. The ‘killer app’ for 10G may be Light Field/Volumetric displays (bandwidth), home healthcare (reliability and resiliency) or a myriad of other applications on the horizon.  CableLabs is monitoring approximately 70 technologies that would need the type of benefits that 10G will deliver.  The cable industry is ‘planting a tree for the next 20 years’….10G is an enabler.

2. DAA has been a (the) hot topic within the cable industry for a few years now – it continued to be a key topic that permeated virtually all discussions at the event:


  • 10-year program – Jeff Heynen from Dell’Oro commented on the theoretical maximum number of R-PHY/R-MACPHY deployments in a given year – this constraining factor means deploying R-PHY/R-MACPHY nodes will likely be a 10-year program (at least in North America).
  • Converged Interconnect Network – on the DAA panel, Ciena’s Fernando Villarruel outlined some of the benefits of having a CIN to support multiple and new revenue streams (e.g. mobile, new Enterprise services, IoT), enabling cable MSOs to ‘grow the revenue pie’. Check out this short video to learn more about Ciena’s Fiber Deep solution for the CIN or how Ciena’s new 5171 Service Aggregation Switch and Service Aggregation Platform, supports this by bringing more capacity closer to the network edge, enabling deployment into outdoor street cabinets and other uncontrolled locations.
  • Last mile of coax as ‘fiber extension’ – as DOCSIS continues to evolve, we need to think of the last mile of coax as a ‘fiber extension.

3. How can we have a ‘cable conference’ without DOCSIS getting much of the ‘limelight’: 

  • Gigabit (Gb) Broadband is the new standard – most US MSOs have deployed DOCSIS 3.1 which enables 1Gb downstream broadband. There are 234 operators around the world offering 1Gb services, according to Jaimie Lenderman, from Ovum.
  • Expect full duplex DOCSIS (FDX) field trials in 2020, but FDX is not for everyone – FDX is a key technology for 10G, however, the challenge is that node + 0 (N+0) is the natural way to do FDX.  Many MSOs are indicating they may not go to N+0 (too expensive). The industry is now looking at options N+2, N+3, etc. – variants of FDX.
  • Home Wi-Fi – in home Wi-Fi can be a limiting factor in achieving the benefits of DOCSIS 3.1, there was a surprising amount of discussion on the growing demand for managed Wi-Fi services (e.g. enhanced customer support, parental controls,) – $5-12/month was suggested as an acceptable premium.

4. Cable MSOs have been using Coherent technology in their transport networks for many years – the ‘new’ discussion was about using Coherent in the cable MSO access, this included:


  • 100G and 200G Specs – CableLabs is currently focused on 100G and 200G specs for the access network, they have left door open for a 400G spec. Learn more about Ciena’s recently announced WaveLogic 5 Nano 100G/200G CFP2-DCO.
  • What is different with Coherent in the Access – on the Coherent panel, Ciena’s Chris Gosnell outlined some of the key differences vs. the use of coherent optics in transport networks, these include:
    • Shorter distances
    • Hardened environment (i.e. temperature tolerant)
    • Needs to work with existing access equipment
    • Economics – access network is very distributed (vs. the transport network) and the economics are different
  • Coherent in the access not an immediate need for DAA – however, at some point the economic benefits of coherent in the access makes a lot of sense.

5. When the cable industry announced the 10G initiative people naturally think about 5G – there was a lot of discussion on 5G…particularly given CNG 2019 is a ‘cable conference’, these discussions covered:

  • 5G will not kill MSO broadband – 5G is an opportunity for MSOs (e.g. 5G will need 10G for mobile backhaul). There was discussion that 5G does not penetrate houses well and that Wi-Fi in the house offers better coverage. 5G as a replacement for Wi-Fi is not viewed as a big threat.
  • Why is the US market different?  Cable MSOs outside of the US are largely mobile network operators (MNOs) already – why is the US market different? Discussion that financial ARPUs for MSOs in the US are 2-3x higher than in other parts of the world, that US MSOs have not had the same motivation (yet) to invest in mobile as has been seen in other countries.
  • MVNO vs. MNO – Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a great way for MSOs to get into the wireless industry as we are seeing with Comcast and Charter.  There was discussion that as data volumes increase there will be more incentive for cable MSOs to achieve owner’s economics by becoming an MNO.

Ciena was proud to once again be a significant sponsor of the Light Reading Cable Next-Gen event and the exclusive sponsor of the pre-event Workshop – MSO Adaptive Networks. We look forward to seeing everyone in Denver on March 16-18, 2020 for CNG 2020 – fingers crossed we don’t need to endure another ‘bomb cyclone’ winter blizzard.

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