In this effort, they’re pushing digital technologies closer to subscribers, adopting virtualization technologies and employing approaches like Headends Re-architected as a Data Center (HERD), which is an adaptation of the telco Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) initiative for the MSO market.

A new approach, ‘fiber deep,’ underpins this new effort. It’s a large part of the next generation of cable—one that pushes fiber close to the end-user and yields a better customer experience.

Why are MSOs turning to fiber deep?

Coax isn’t going away anytime soon, but not as much will be strung between utility poles. That’s because fiber is penetrating further into the subscriber base. MSOs are turning to fiber deep to scale and unburden themselves from legacy radio frequency technologies.

These are the reasons MSOs are rolling out fiber deep:

  • More responsive Internet services: Cached content that sits hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the user is at the center of the modern Internet. The long distances data has to travel to get from a server to a customer can result in poor performance and a bad user experience. That is starting to change as cable headends transform into mini data centers. There’s a distinct advantage for cable customers during this shift: content is just down the block, not half a continent away in a remote data center. The simple physics involved in moving data at the speed of light means proximity improves responsiveness and quality of service. The once-simple cable headend, which for many years served up basic on-demand video content, is transforming to bring content even closer to subscribers.

  • The redefinition of the network edge: Netflix became an early innovator when, to gain near-real-time responsiveness, it placed servers at the Internet’s edge. Fiber deep takes a cue from that approach and improves performance even more by offering more bandwidth and optimizing caching.

    To improve latency and provide a platform for video aggregation, MSOs can use fiber deep to move content closer to the end-user. Fiber deep also enables MSOs to reduce maintenance costs and reduce power consumptions while improving available bandwidth.

  • The convergence of cloud and transport: The cloud is pushing out closer to the user and bringing cable along with it to the neighborhood. Being able to offer services closer to customers means faster speed and higher quality. Video consumption continues to grow without an end in sight. The only certainty is that unexpected and sudden spikes in demand will happen. This tests the reflexes of MSOs; to keep customers happy, they must quickly react to needs and differentiate themselves from competitors with a user experience that is second to none. Fiber deep places data files close to the user so consumers stay happy with data at the ready on a moment’s notice. At the same time, operators are no longer the weak link in the video delivery value chain.

Cable companies are transforming at a fast and furious rate. In a few short years, they will be unrecognizable. MSOs, looking to stay ahead of the pack, are unbundling programming and now even offer OTT packages. To stay on this course of innovation will require a better, more flexible architecture they can use to differentiate themselves. Operational gains such as improved network availability and reduced reliance on the external power grid are key advantages of moving to fiber deep. But the clearest reason is simple: customers are best served down the block or across town rather than from a centralized headend and data center half a continent away.

Why MSOs turn to Ciena

Ciena’s portfolio of products helps MSOs push fiber closer to the subscribers.

The 8700 Packetwave® Platform—a multi-terabit programmable Ethernet-over-DWDM packet switch—addresses the growing need to efficiently aggregate and switch large quantities of packet traffic while guaranteeing stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The 8700 revolutionizes the capital and operational economics of 10GbE and 100GbE services in metro and regional Ethernet networks.

Built from the ground up to be fully programmable, the 8700 enables metro network operators to migrate existing static networks to dynamic, on-demand networks. The 8700 works in conjunction with Ciena’s Blue Planet V-WAN and Blue Planet Manage, Control, and Plan (MCP) software, which provides end-to-end lifecycle operations and management of Ciena's packet and optical networks, including equipment commissioning, service provisioning, assurance, and performance monitoring. In addition, the 8700 provides a smooth migration path toward a fully open SDN architecture that enables performance-on-demand connectivity. The 8700 has been recognized by BTR Diamond Technology Review with five diamonds. In addition, the platform was 2016’s Diamond Technology Review Innovation Award Winner.

In addition, Ciena’s Waveserver® enables faster web-scale expansion. The stackable interconnect system and ease of use allow the addition of multiple terabits of capacity in minutes. Plus, Ciena’s 6500 family, which can be tuned to handle traffic that would buckle most systems, also reduces hubs, bringing content closer to the user.