There’s a lot at stake for cable MSOs, with the rising popularity of Over-the-Top (OTT) services leading the charge.

Fiber deep is the trend in which MSOs push fiber ever closer to customers to provide them with better service.

As consumer behavior shifts from traditional linear video to on-demand offerings, Internet services have increased in importance. As a result, cable MSOs can’t tolerate service disruptions or quality issues. But aging coaxial plant, analog repeaters, and dependence on the power grid make meeting customer demand for fast and reliable service a challenge.

In addition to adopting virtualization technologies and pursuing strategies like Headends Re-Architected as a Data Center (HERD), which is the adaptation of the telco Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) initiative for the MSO market, cable MSOs are trying to simplify operations by driving digital technologies closer to subscribers.

This effort is called fiber deep, and is a large part of the next generation of cable—one that pushes fiber close to the end-user and yields a better customer experience through better service.

By driving fiber deeper, cable MSOs can further improve performance. Fiber deep reduces or eliminates amplifiers and pushes the optical-to-electrical conversion closer to subscribers, which increases potential bandwidth to homes and cuts power and maintenance costs.

At the end of the day, cable MSOs have one of the best Internet service products in the market. Their rich pedigree of content ownership and delivery experience makes them well-suited to deliver the best user experience in the business. It’s the nature of the cable industry architecture that provides a distinct advantage, all because the network and digital assets are relatively close to the user, not miles away in a large data center. In addition, cable MSOs have a high-speed network connected all the way to the users, which is a distinct advantage over the Telcos.

The new Internet norm is responsiveness and quality of experience. The headend will transform into a data center, and cable MSOs need fiber deep to transform once again to scale and unburden themselves from legacy radio frequency technologies. Coax won’t go away, but there will be less of it strung between poles.

Netflix is the poster child for OTT video and provides a glimpse into the future of cable. The company reimagined content distribution—investing in a home-grown content delivery network to provide quality of experience and real-time responsiveness. The cable industry is in the position to develop the best platform for moving OTT or streaming content and managing the customer experience down to the individual user, with improved latency. With the know-how to deliver video, cable MSOs can reinvent the Internet and be the best broadband service provider for years to come.

As cable MSOs extend fiber deep and transition to the next generation of technologies and services, they will need to overhaul the access network between the headend, hub, and digital fiber nodes (DFNs)—a packet-based network the industry refers to as the Converged Interconnect Network (CIN). Ciena’s Fiber Deep solution for the CIN is based on industry leadership in the integration of coherent optics, packet aggregation, and transport technologies. Ciena’s comprehensive solution for the CIN offers a roadmap that supports a variety of architectures based on interoperable products. Operational efficiencies come from high-density packet aggregation/switching and integrated coherent optics, reduced space, power, and installation time due to a ‘wire-once’ approach, and the benefits of software automation. Ciena’s Fiber Deep solution supports extending fiber deep, and also provides a common CIN infrastructure for mobile front/mid/back-haul and enterprise business services. 

Ciena products within the Fiber Deep solution have been recognized with Broadband Technology Report Diamond Technology Review honoree awards (2018) and received high scores from the Lightwave Innovation Reviews (2019). 

Ciena’s Fiber Deep Solution for the Converged Interconnect Network (CIN)

Edge aggregation from digital fiber nodes (R-PHY, R-MACPHY) is supported with Ciena’s 5170 Service Aggregation Switch—an energy-efficient one Rack Unit (RU) switch that performs edge aggregation to 100GbE for controlled environments. Ciena’s 5171 Service Aggregation Platform provides high-density switching and aggregation of 1GbE, 10GbE, 25GbE, and 100GbE to 100G to 200G coherent DWDM utilizing Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Nano or other footprint-optimized solutions. Temperature-hardened and compact, the 5171 provides deployment location flexibility, including street cabinets and other uncontrolled locations. Ciena’s Service-Aware Operating System (SAOS) maximizes the networking flexibility and resiliency of the 5170 and 5171.

Secondary aggregation of 100GbE signals to a 100 to 800G wavelength is performed using Ciena’s 8180 Coherent Networking Platform—a high-capacity, 6.4Tb packet switching and aggregation platform with programmable coherent optics in a compact 2RU footprint that provides a high-density on-ramp to the coherent optical network. 

Optical transport over high-capacity wavelengths between the hub and headend occurs via Ciena’s 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS)—a dense configuration that reduces footprint and expands fiber capacity. Stacked shelves are managed as a single node with auto-discovery and zero-touch provisioning.

Ciena’s Waveserver® Ai is a high-capacity packet-to-optical interconnect platform that takes the wavelength from the 6500 RLS and converts it to Ethernet. The Waveserver Ai consumes low power in a compact footprint. It is easy to deploy and operate with industry standards, and highly programmable with open APIs.

Ciena’s Blue Planet® Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) software provides multi-layer management, SDN control, and planning for Ciena’s Fiber Deep solution, and enables fast integration.

Wayne Hickey, What is Fiber Deep?