Highlights from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo

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As a product manager and engineer, I really enjoy attending the technology-oriented SCTE Cable-Tec Expo. It has a stronger technology focus than many other industry trade shows and it’s always a good opportunity to talk to the engineering teams from all of the operators and vendors in attendance. Our booth was very busy over the show’s three days, which was a direct reflection on the increased attendance levels at this year’s show.

So, what were my highlights? There’s been a lot of buzz about DOCSIS 3.1 and the pending initial release of the spec this month. Last year, the announcements about DOCSIS 3.1 allowed us all to start to wonder what the first products would be capable of, as we were just beginning to understand the new technologies introduced by DOCSIS 3.1. This year, the vision started to come into focus. We now know that the first “hybrid” DOCSIS 3.0/3.1 modems could approach 5Gbps downstream, which is ten times the 500Mbps we are seeing operators offer today with DOCSIS 3.0. Operators could start to see these devices showing up in their labs perhaps by the end of 2014, with CMTS gear to follow soon after.

The second topic of interest was software-defined networking (SDN). This concept has made its way into the cable industry, with several sessions dedicated to SDN during the show. As cable operators increasingly deploy their services across a growing range of access network architectures, such as DOCSIS, C-DOCSIS, FTTx/DPoE, RFoG and EPOC, the networks and systems supporting these technologies need to be agile and programmable.

Although much of the technology is still new, it’s exciting to consider the possibilities and network optimization that could be achieved from the faster and easier routing that SDN potentially offers. But the benefits don’t stop there — SDN concepts can also potentially be applied to provisioning, data analytics, and policy control. This is a concept that is sure to grow in the coming years.

I’m now looking forward to next year and the technology developments that will lead into Denver for Cable-Tec Expo 2014.

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