Harmonic Transforms Cable Access Market with Software CCAP System
Harmonic’s new CableOS system is among the first software-based Converged Cable Access Platform systems, or CCAP. Developed for cable operators interested in deploying new IP-based data, video and voice services, Harmonic says that a converged platform may help resolve space and power constraints in the headend and hub, increase infrastructure scalability and agility, and save costs.
Patrick Harshman, president and CEO at Harmonic, said, "Today's cable operators have a great opportunity as they introduce gigabit broadband services," said. "The software-based CableOS is an effort to supply tools to take advantage of that opportunity, as well as gain the benefits associated with distributed access architecture."
Based on a software-based CMTS Core server - cable modem termination system - and full-spectrum DOCSIS 3.1 Remote PHY systems, CableOS Core software runs on 1-RU COTS Intel processor-based servers in a headend, hub or data centre. A single CableOS Core server is built to support tens of gigs of capacity and multiple service groups in fewer rack units when compared with traditional hardware CMTS implementations. According to Harmonic, operators using CableOS can potentially cut space and power by up to 75 percent in a centralized CCAP deployment, or by more in a Remote PHY deployment.
Where cable operators are feeling pressured to supply higher bandwidth transport for Internet, video and voice services, some are opting for standardized, digital and fibre-based systems that will help them reduce costs and future-proof their infrastructures to support network demands. Among the associated developments is a Converged Cable Access Platform, which simplifies cable headend operations and supports the move to service convergence and IP video.
One of the new access systems for this platform is Remote PHY, contributed from Cisco. Remote PHY works together with DOCSIS 3.1, the latest version of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification that allows operators to add high-bandwidth data transfer to a cable TV system and supply Internet access over existing hybrid fibre-coaxial infrastructures.
"Cable delivery infrastructure has traditionally been based on purpose-built silicon platforms," said Dan Rodriguez, general manager, Communication Infrastructure Division at Intel Corporation. "Scaling hardware-centric infrastructure to meet new services and IP demand growth leads to capacity, space and power challenges. The move to a software-based model that uses standard servers with Intel processors handles more computing at the edge of the network to improve service agility and quality of experience, and open options that save time and money."
Beyond easing migration to the new DOCSIS 3.1 specification over existing cable access infrastructure, CableOS improves RF port density for centralized architectures, creating cost-efficiencies over traditional cable access architectures.
The CableOS software-based CCAP system was first shown during the 2016 SCTE [Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers] Cable-Tec Expo at the end of September in Philadelphia. It is currently in trials at several tier-1 cable MSOs in North America and Europe. "At SCTE, we believe that the trend toward network virtualization and moving cable access functionality onto software has benefits for cable operators," said Chris Bastian, SCTE’s CTO. "Achieving a smaller footprint in the headend while maintaining reliability, security and service levels is an important step forward in the industry."
The first commercial deployments are expected to begin at the end of 2016. www.harmonicinc.com