Author: Jeff Walker, Director, CMTS Product Marketing
The days of cable operators dedicating only one channel to DOCSIS data traffic are behind us. In 2011, a typical MSO is using four to six 6MHz channels for subscriber data connections. In 2012, Motorola predicts that range will double, with operators using eight to twelve channels for DOCSIS traffic alone.
The change is a direct result of growing consumer demand for Internet services. Downstream traffic is skyrocketing at a rate of roughly 50 percent a year, thanks in large part to streaming video on the web. Upstream traffic is only growing at a rate of 20 to 30 percent annually, but that could, and probably will change drastically as consumers adopt new video chat features through social networking platforms.
MSOs are raising their numbers of DOCSIS channels to handle both the overall increase in broadband capacity needed, and consumer demands for greater speed. Downstream channel bonding is now in widespread use across the country, and while many operators are only bonding two or three channels at a time today, that number will continue to grow in response to increasing speed requirements. Upstream channel bonding is not far behind.
So what does all of this data traffic mean for cable video? Cable operators are still reallocating spectrum that was formerly used for analog video, but it’s not all going over to DOCSIS delivery. Far from it. MSOs are using roughly eight channels for narrowcast video-on-demand streaming today, and in 2012 we’re seeing indications that operators will use anywhere from eight to 16 channels for VOD. That’s due in part to growing VOD catalogs, and in part to new experiments with network-based DVR delivery. In short, there’s growth happening in every direction, and it’s all fueled by insatiable consumer demand for entertainment and communication across multiple platforms.