Accelerating its work to help cable operators virtualize their networks, CableLabs announced the launch of a remote MACPHY working group. It’s part of CableLabs’ Distributed CCAP Architecture program.
The cable industry has been working on a converged cable access platform (CCAP) for a number of years. CCAPs replace the old cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), putting ports for both data and cable video on a single device. The new CCAP hardware is designed to simplify the network and save space, power, and cooling at cable headends.
But even before most operators have fully transitioned to CCAP, there’s a movement, now, to distribute the architecture, put more functionality in software, and move parts out of the headend, closer to the edge of the network. This evolution is being done via remote PHY and remote MACPHY.
Curtis Knittle, vice president of wired technologies at CableLabs, said that as cable operators have begun to deploy remote MACPHY, they’ve discovered that some interfaces are causing problems with interoperability. “It’s the control interfaces we have learned that need the spec to interoperate,” he said.
CableLabs’ new remote MACPHY working group is comprised of operators, equipment manufacturers, and CableLabs’ engineers. Its charter is to develop one or more specifications that allow vendors’ remote MACPHY solutions to interoperate when deployed.
As far as the participants in the working group, Knittle said, “The operators would typically be members of CableLabs. Vendors are not members. They provide engineering resources because they have a vested interest. It’s open. But there are some agreements that need to be signed.”
To join the remote MACPHY working group, participants must sign a DOCSIS non-disclosure agreement and a DOCSIS IP rights agreement. Knittle said the agreements ensure that participants won’t discuss the spec until it’s issued. “During the development of the spec, we keep things internal,” he said.
Remote MACPHY technology provides several benefits to the hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks that deliver cable TV and broadband:
- It takes full advantage of the capabilities of DOCSIS 3.1 technology, allowing more data capacity to be packed into the same amount of spectrum;
- It supports the deployment of full duplex DOCSIS, which will enable multi-gigabit, symmetric upstream and downstream services on existing cable plants; and
- It leverages lower cost, higher capacity optical Ethernet transport mechanisms.