Despite the bandwidth benefits of running fiber to the home, the reality is that the HFC networks deployed by cable operators today still have life left in them. Looking for more IP video? How about a 1Gbps throughput rate? It’s all feasible over HFC with careful, well-thought-out network planning.
Years ago Motorola introduced a bandwidth calculator tool for determining network needs based on an operator’s subscriber and service environment. It’s still in use today, but with more variables thrown into the mix. The model now includes considerations for multiple concurrency levels for different services (IP video versus traditional VOD, for example), whether a service is early in its lifespan or has matured, and the impact of node splits on total costs. All of these factors play a role in determining how deep operators should be driving fiber into their networks. Some situations call for an FTTH network, but many don’t demand it right away.
The bottom line is that there are still a number of ways to optimize fiber-to-the-node networks. Decreasing service group sizes is a big one, as is balancing out the service mix. With existing technologies, we’re still looking out five to seven years into the future. That’s a lifetime in the tech world, and a good reason not to replace HFC networks today.