Virtualizing the Cable Network

Virtualization was a key topic at the recent CableLabs Winter Conference and is one that isn’t likely to go away soon. It seems that everyone is interested in seeing whether cloud-based solutions will work, both hypothetically and in practice. This includes CMTS units, cable modems, and services.

As my colleague Patrick Kinnerk mentioned in his recent blog, CableLabs President and CTO Phil McKinney led the virtualization discussion in his keynote at the Winter Conference and spoke about an activity that CableLabs recently took on to create a cloud-based DOCSIS environment. This was an interesting exercise to see how far the virtualization concept could be taken. But what would be the benefits to the cable industry?

The cost savings of virtualizing the cable network are still unknown. We need to be able to predict any potential savings to understand future benefits. It’s also important to understand that this kind of overhaul would affect every aspect of the cable industry — from the physical plants to the available knowledge. Virtualization would effectively change the existing model completely.

However, it’s great to see CableLabs partnering with industry leaders to test the feasibility of new ideas. It’s a step forward for CableLabs to show initiative and analyze issues in the industry, while actively working towards creating innovative solutions. I look forward to seeing if there is any further research down the track, and if so, what the results are.