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February 11, 2021

Why are MSOs Upgrading Their Legacy Equipment?



Networks need to be faster and more capable of handling vast amounts of data than ever before. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, demand for broadband communication services has soared, with some operators experiencing as much as a 60% increase in Internet traffic. Some industry analysts even predict that, within a decade, service providers’ existing networks could reach capacity. Consequently, multiple system operators (MSOs) are seeking to get ahead of this challenge by simultaneously advancing and simplifying their existing (legacy) networks for maximum efficiency and higher performance.

Much of this involves advancing hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks to new optical designs, referred to as distributed access architectures (DAAs), that push fiber deeper into the architecture closer to end-users. The end result is the creation of software-defined networks (SDNs) where digital optics replace analog lasers and through which MSOs can deliver the IP video, 4K streaming and other data-intensive business applications their subscribers require. 

The Shift to 100G and Beyond

To get into a bit more detail, the need to evolve HFC networks extends out of three main issues:

  • Consumer bandwidth requirements
  • Complex network designs filled with legacy equipment
  • Critical need to upgrade network reliability and service delivery

It used to be that speeds of 10Gbps or 40Gbps were considered revolutionary. But now, forward-thinking MSOs are already beginning to consider 100G the new standard speed for access networks. The need for 100G and beyond stems from consumer interest in adopting emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality streaming, 5G and more. In fact, Statista predicts that, by 2025, over 75 billion IoT smart devices will be active. Although the 5G mobile standard can handle peak data rates of 10Gbps for individual users, on a collective basis, the industry is looking at data volumes of 10TB a second per square kilometer. Clearly, MSOs have every reason to move past legacy HFC designs.

As they work to evolve their networks for next-generation capabilities, MSOs face a variety of options including Remote-PHY DAA, Remote MAC-PHY and standard Remote-PHY designs. While each model brings its own benefits and challenges to MSOs, one thing is clear – they all help increase the available bandwidth of an MSO’s existing HFC network infrastructure. In this way, they provide an economical solution to meeting the speed and capacity demands of network subscribers. Thus, for many MSOs that are starting from the position of preexisting HFC networks, going the DAA route makes sense and allows them to stay competitive with Fiber-to-the-X buildouts, which are costly to construct and mainly make sense only for new residential developments. 

In Conclusion


As far as optical networks are concerned, there’s no question that consumer interest in new technologies, streaming services and over-the-top (OTT) content is spurring MSOs to move away from legacy HFC networks. To ensure the successful transformation of your networks, many MSOs find incredible value in consulting with a system engineering company that tests and delivers high-quality products that perform reliably. Ongoing technical support is critical, as well. To learn more about how Precision OT can assist your company in transitioning from legacy network architectures to new optical networking designs, contact us.