The cable industry is on the precipice of mass introduction of a new class of equipment – the Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) – that will solve a couple of problems for them: space and energy.
One of the things of which cable operators are most proud is that they shrewdly rolled out Internet access, telephony and other services as they became available and made business sense. A downside of that incremental process, however, is that things develop in silos. Video, telephony, Internet access and the smaller platforms – such as advertising insertion and over-the-top (OTT) video – are discrete worlds onto themselves.
This means that there is a lot of duplication of functions that, in a perfect world, could be used across all the services. This wastes space, which is always an issue as operators are trying to squeeze more and more services into headends and hubs that were designed in far simpler times. A tremendous amount of energy is also wasted as operators power and cool equipment that is partially duplicative.
CCAP is a major attempt to confront both issues by consolidating video and data functions in the same device. There are different takes on how this will be done, based on operators’ unique needs.
The CCAP era is here. Among other announcements, Cisco said last month that the South Korean operator SK Broadband will deploy its cBR-8 CCAP convered broadband router across its national footprint, which serves 5 million subscribers. This week, Casa Systems said that Wave Broadband, an operator with 450,000 subscribers in the Pacific Northwest, will deploy its C100G CCAP system.
The Casa/Wave release makes the attraction clear:
The solution’s higher density, compact design will provide Wave with superior efficiency and cost-saving advantages compared to its previous CMTS platform. The economical power design that minimizes impact in hub and headend sites will serve as a revenue enhancer for Wave, while subsequently taking advantage of reduced energy costs from smaller rack space needs.
CCAP is being taken even further. The industry is toying with distributing functionality throughout its network as a way to further alleviate the space and power burden in the headend and gain the efficiencies that moving elements nearer to subscribers would provide. A story at Light Reading suggests that the industry is considering three basic approaches. A winner – if there will be just one – is not yet in sight.
Though CCAP technology is here, Broadband Technology Report noted this week a dearth of announcements. The story suggests that moves may be happening, but in the background. A possible reason for the operator reticence to talk about CCAP deployments is a desire to see how the distributed CCAP battles play out. It is also possible that deployments may have been made but not announced for competitive reasons or because the operators don’t want to make it seem that a speed upgrade is imminent. Some operators simply may be focused on the other, related, great technology project of the times: the upgrade to version 3.1 of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS 3.1).
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.