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June 18, 2019

Next Gen Connectivity: Developments in HFC Networks

Hybrid fiber coax (HFC) is one of the most popular ways access network operators deliver high speed, fiber-based services to their subscribers. Through the use of both fiber and coaxial cable, HFC offers ease of deployment for residential/industrial developments and also developments in existing infrastructure-dense areas. 

Since HFC deployments are cost-effective in comparison to other access network configurations, it is a popular solution for network operators. In fact, according to Research and Markets, the HFC market is expected to enjoy consistent growth leading to a total worth of $13.6 billion by 2023 – up from $9.6 billion in 2018. In this blog, we examine HFC use cases and how Precision OT continues to address the needs of network operators pursuing this kind of deployment. 

Why Choose HFC?

In contrast to FTTH deployments where fiber is brought all the way to the end-user, HFC uses both fiber optic and coax cables to connect subscribers. Stemming out of the needs of cable television providers, the average HFC build out involves laying fiber optic cable from the head end or distribution center but only as far as optical nodes, which are located close to end-users. From there, coaxial cables run to the homes, businesses and multi-dwelling units. In this way, HFC is known as an effective use of both a long-standing transport medium and a more modern one.

HFC topologies are so alluring because they offer relatively high bandwidth while allowing for low upfront costs. By incorporating fiber cable into the mix, HFC allows network operators to handle greater volumes of data than with a pure coaxial cable design. By using separate transmittal/reception fibers or wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), two-way high-speed interactivity is possible. This enables network subscribers to enjoy applications like digital TV, video on demand and telephony. 

The Race with Fiber – Getting the Most out of the Hybrid Topology

Historically, HFC has often faced concerns over whether it can deliver at speeds competitive to all-fiber topologies. Network operators have traditionally relied on DOCSIS 3.1 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) as a somewhat partial solution. DOCSIS 3.1, the latest of the DOCSIS standards, supports download rates up to 10Gbps and upload speeds up to 1 Gbps; however, subscribers will only get the high speeds of the DOCSIS 3.1 if the overall HFC network architecture can support it. To that end, many network operators are turning to Remote PHY to improve the capabilities of their HFC topologies. 

Although DOCSIS was designed for linear HFC, Remote PHY provides a simple and easy-to-employ method of adapting such networks to allow for digital HFC. As we noted in a previous blog, Remote PHY is a type of distributed access architecture (DAA) that moves the physical layer of the OSI model from the headend out to the digital fiber nodes toward the end of the network. The focus on decentralization enables HFC network operators to replace analog HFC connections with Ethernet and IP networks, creating new options to configure service groups. In this way, they can deliver the speeds DOCSIS 3.1 promises, thereby retaining customers.

The Precision OT Guarantee

That’s where we come in. We’ve made it our business to system engineer the transceivers, fiber jumpers and other active/passive components needed to allow network operators to employ emerging technologies like Remote PHY in their networks. Because every one of our engineers is a technical expert, we work with our customers to ensure we create the custom solutions they need. All products are tested to allow for true reliability and are certified to work with any other NEM equipment you might have in your network. In short, Precision OT has a proven track record of being a reliable, trusted partner for network operators looking to take advantage of HFC topologies. Find out more about how we can support your requirements – contact us!