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DOCSIS 3.

0
Rev.A00

Agenda & Discussion Points

CATV Market Dynamics

DOCSIS 3 Overview

DOCSIS 3 Benefits

Preparing for DOCSIS 3

What you need to test

How VeEX can help you

Troubleshooting Summary

Essential Technical Terms

DOCSIS 3.0

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Market Trends

Media Convergence

Source: Future services on HFC networks: 33th PIKE Conference, 14 October 2008, Zakopane, Poland
DOCSIS 3.0

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User Profiles & Applications


Web 2.0

Digital
Photos

Home
Networks

Data &
VoIP

Gaming

MP3
WMV

VOD
DVR/PVR

DVD
Blu-ray

You Tube

SDTV
HDTV
DOCSIS 3.0

Mobile
Video

iPod
Walkman

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CATV Operators Need DOCSIS 3.0!

DOCSIS 3.0

Customer
Demand

Competitor
Offering

IPTV, Netflix,
Blockbuster, SIP
Video, Gaming, You
Tube (HD), Video
Phone (HD) ...

FTTx, GPON,
VDSL2, FiOS,
Wireless

Business
Services

IP Addresses
needed

T1/E1 solutions
HD Video
Conferencing

IPv6

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CATV Operators Feeling Pressure

Competition is extremely active

Consumers have an insatiable demand for new services

Telcos are deploying VDSL2, GPON, FIOS and FTTx (USA & Europe)

HDTV, VoD, PVR, interactive DTV etc

To meet the growing challenge cable operators have to:

Expand network capacity in cost effective and timely manner

Evolutionary steps - incremental investments in current technology

Revolutionary steps need to decide if and when to implement a Next Generation HFC
network

DOCSIS 3.0

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An Ongoing Battle for Customers

Verizon Beats Back Cable With YouTube Tilt

April 27, 2010

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) will


soon use FiOS TV's ability to feed in thousands of
YouTube videos as a key selling point in TV spots
aimed at drawing cable and satellite TV
subscribers to its completely fiber-fed platform.

DOCSIS 3.0

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DOCSIS Overview
DOCSIS 3.0 Benefits

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DOCSIS Milestones
DOCSIS 1.0 (1999)
1st products certified (CableLabs started project in 1996)
Open standard for high-speed data over cable
Modest security, Best-effort service
DOCSIS 1.1 (2000)
Quality-of-Service (QoS) service flows
Baseline Privacy Interface (BPI+) Certificates
Improved privacy & encryption process
DOCSIS 2.0 (2002)
Improved throughput & robustness on Upstream
64/128 QAM modulation & higher symbol rates with FEC
Programmable interleaving to upstream channels
DOCSIS 3.0 (2006)
Channel bonding (4U/4D) for increased capacity
IPv6 support
Improved security (AES)
DOCSIS 3.0

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DOCSIS 3.0 Quick Overview


Increased Downstream
Throughput

Bonded downstream channels


56Mbps (RAW) each, 222Mbps Total

Increased Upstream
bandwidth

Bonded upstream channels, 5-85MHz


27Mbps (RAW) each, 122Mbps Total

IPv6 Support
Backwards compatibility

IPV6 will allow for 3.4x1038 IP addresses


Address shortcomings with NAT devices
Existing DOCSIS 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0 systems

CMTS qualification

Bronze and silver certifications phased out with only


full certification available now

Modem certification

Full certification (CableLabs & Euro CableLabs)

Additional network
security

Early Authentication and Encryption (EAE) or


AES 128bit encryption which is more secure

DOCSIS 3.0

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10

DOCSIS Throughput Compared

Date Rates Annex A

EuroDOCSIS
Version

Downstream

Upstream

1.x

~ 55.62 (50) Mb/s

10.29 (9) Mb/s

2.0

~ 55.62 (50) Mb/s

30.72 (27) Mb/s

3.0 (4 Channels)

~ 222.48 (200+) Mb/s

122.88 (108+) Mb/s

3.0 (8 Channels)

~ 444.96 (400+) Mb/s

122.88 (108+) Mb/s

Notes:

Downstream bandwidths assuming QAM-256 modulation

Upstream bandwidth assuming QAM-64 modulation

Maximum synchronization speed and (Maximum usable speed)

DOCSIS 3.0

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11

DOCSIS 3.0 Channel Bonding

Additional Upstream and Downstream Channels

Bonded
together for
higher
aggregate
speed and
capacity

DOCSIS 3.0

4D/4U =
Can be
150Mb/s
deployed
downstream
incrementally
120Mb/s
upstream

No upper
limit to # of
channels

HFC subsplit
effectively
limits #
upstream
channels

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Existing
DOCSIS
modems
share
channels
with no
negative
impact

12

DOCSIS 3.0 Signals


What do we know?

Physically the same as DOCSIS 2.0 signals

Consist of multiple QAM signals bonded logically together

Carry data of mutual relevance

Bonded channels can be contiguous or non-contiguous:

Contiguous - consist of frequency consecutive signals

Non-contiguous - interspersed in the spectrum with other


carriers

MPEG-2 transport for downstream signals

QAM transport for upstream signals

DOCSIS 3.0

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DOCSIS 3.0 Preparation

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14

Preparing for DOCSIS 3.0

RF
Bandwidth
Availability

DOCSIS 3.0

Headend
and Core
Network
Equipment
Preparation

Verify
QAM64
Upstream
Txmission

Verify
QAM256
Downstream
Txmission

DOCSIS 3.0
Modem
Emulation

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IP/Ethernet
Testing
(Ping, FTP,
RFC2544,
Web)

15

Obtaining the Required Bandwidth


Expand the plant
to 860MHz or
1GHz

Launch digital
only systems

Use unusable
old analog
broadcast
channels

Launch Digital
Simulcast and
migrate selected
analog channels

Use Switched
Digital Video to
reclaim
bandwidth

DOCSIS 3.0

Move test
carriers to
alternate
frequencies

DOCSIS 3.0
requires a minimum
of 4 to16 downstream
channels

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CMs are able to


receive 4 DS
channels spread
across a 60MHz
window

16

Frequency Spectrum Changes


Today 870MHz

Soon 1GHz

Reclaiming bandwidth:
Switched Digital Video

Test requirements:
Downstream expanding to 1GHz

MPEG 4 video

Bonded channels need verification

Analog Video Reclamation

Return Path filling up rapidly impacting


traditional sweep and ingress test methods

Higher order modulation

In-service testing where possible

DOCSIS 3.0

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17

Upstream Expansion
How much gain?

Extension of the US band from 65 MHz to 85 MHz

250Mb/s

DOCSIS technology becoming available


FM band is compromised
Large network investment is required

Extension of the US band beyond 85 MHz


Not in current DOCSIS recommendations

New upstream band 900 1000 MHz

Adaptation of DOCSIS (RF up converter)


Ingress noise issue solved
862 to 1000 GHz is considered as DS extension band
Big investment in diplex filters and return amplifiers

New upstream band above 1000 MHz

500Mb/s

1000Mb/s

Adaptation of DOCSIS (RF up converter)


Ingress noise issue solved
Quality concern regarding passives and cables
Investment in diplex filters and return amplifiers

DOCSIS 3.0

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18

Expanding HFC Network Capacity

Operators have strong differences in opinion with regard to options:

Solutions are typically driven by specific technical, geographical or local market factors

A combination of solutions often determines the preferred option

Source: Michiel Peters, TNO - Benelux Chapter SCTE , 15 September 2008, Amsterdam

DOCSIS 3.0

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19

DOCSIS 3.0
Plant Qualification & Test Methods

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20

Typical DOCSIS Network

DOCSIS 3.0

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21

Plant Qualification
Upstream Testing
Generate QAM signal in RP to verify attenuation, level, Tilt, MER and BER
Frequency response, Group delay, Constellation and Adaptive equalization
Check spectrum for ingress, noise, CPD and laser clipping
Check for modems transmitting excessive levels due to high value taps
Downstream Testing
Forward Sweep (Sweepless), frequency response, amplifier tilt
MER, CNR, Group Delay, Constellation, BER pre/post errors
MPEG-2 Video Signal Analysis

Useful Tips
Qualify the plant on a node by node basis
Cable drops should be Tri or Quad shielded
Check for leakage & improve thresholds (< 5uV/m is recommended)
Use the divide-and-conquer technique to locate problems
Avoid downstream/upstream frequencies near the band edges/roll off
Avoid downstream/upstream frequencies susceptible to ingress/interference
DOCSIS 3.0

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22

Upstream Test Part 1


Setup

Configure the Upstream Generator (USG):

Frequency, level, modulation, bandwidth, and


symbol rate

Transmit the QAM-64 signal upstream to a


CX180+, CX350 or CX380 located in the
Headend or Hub.

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23

Upstream Test Part 2


Basic

At the Headend or Hub, check:

Digital signal level (dBmV, dBV)

Modulation Error Ratio (MER)

DOCSIS 3.0

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24

Upstream Test Part 3


Spectrum

At the Headend or Hub, check:

Upstream spectrum (5-65MHz) for Ingress,


CPD, and other interference
Check below 5MHz and above 65MHz all the
way to 200MHz if possible
A QAM-64 signal requires a clean upstream
path!

DOCSIS 3.0

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25

Still Having Problems?

Level and
MER look
OK?

A Signal Level Meter (SLM) and Spectrum


Analyzer are great application specific tools, but
they can be limited in telling you everything you
need to know about advanced digital signals
Downstream and upstream (DOCSIS) signals
can be impaired by other factors not easily
viewed using conventional test methods
Look for the needle inside the QAM haystack
to figure out what is going on!

DOCSIS 3.0

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26

Upstream Testing Part 4


Advanced

For the Upstream, you need to check:

MER (equalized and un-equalized)

Pre and Post FEC

Frequency response (in-channel)

Group delay (in-channel)

Constellation diagram

Adaptive equalizer results

DOCSIS 3.0

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27

Downstream Testing Part 5


Advanced

For the Downstream, you need to check:

Digital Power Level

MER (equalized and un-equalized)

Pre and Post FEC

Frequency response (in-channel)

Group delay (in-channel)

Constellation diagram

Adaptive equalizer results

DOCSIS 3.0

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28

Downstream QAM Parameters

Constellation

MER
64-QAM: 27 dB min
256-QAM: 31 dB min

BER
Pre/Post FEC

Pre/Post Errorred Seconds (PRES/POES)

The number of seconds with at least one corrected codeword

Severely Errorred Seconds

The number of seconds with at least one uncorrectable codeword

DOCSIS 3.0

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29

Impairments

Thermal noise is a basic physical phenomenon which cannot be avoided

Random voltage variation proportional to temperature, bandwidth and resistance.

At room temperature, in 6 MHz bandwidth and 75 ohms circuit, the thermal noise is
approximately -60dBmV. After amplification, the noise level can get much higher.

All the other impairments are human made, they depend on the design, implementation
and operation of all the elements in the signal chain

It is convenient to group all impairments into 2 categories:

Linear distortions and Non-linear distortions.

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30

What Degrades MER?

Transmitted phase noise & Low carrier-to-noise ratio

Non-linear distortions (CTB, CSO, XMOD, CPD)

Linear distortions (micro-reflections, amplitude ripple, group delay)

Severe impedance mismatches aka linear distortions

Improperly aligned or defective amplifiers

In-correct modulation profiles

Incorrect signal levels

In-channel ingress

Data collisions

Laser clipping

DOCSIS 3.0

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31

What MER is Acceptable?

Output of QAM Modulator 40 dB

Input to Lasers 39 dB

Output of Nodes 37 dB

Output of Subscriber Taps 35 dB

At the input to the subscribers receiver 34 dB

The absolute minimum is 31db

MER is expressed in dB derived as follows:

10 log

DOCSIS 3.0

RMS error magnitude


Average symbol magnitude

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32

Downstream Performance
Pre/Post FEC BER

What the results are telling you:

What to look for:

DOCSIS 3.0

Level, MER and Constellation are OK


Pre/Post FEC BER indicate a problem

Interference from a sweep transmitter


Downstream laser clipping
Up-converter problem in the Headend
Loose connections or CPD

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33

Notes on FEC

To have an accurate idea of the BER performance you need to know both pre
and post FEC bit error rate

Forward error correction (FEC) is a digital error checking system that sends
redundant information with the payload so the receiver can repair corrupted data
and eliminate the need to retransmit.

By using the same Reed Solomon decoder at the receiving end, bit errors can be
detected these are called Pre-FEC errors

Pre FEC BER is the error rate of the incoming signal prior to being corrected by
the FEC circuitry - a minimum of 1x10-7 is expected, but FEC may be able to
correct errors as high as 1x10-6.

Post-FEC errors cause poor TV quality or DOCSIS data retransmission

Post FEC Bit errors are not acceptable and should be corrected

The FEC decoder needs a BER of >1x10-6 to operate properly

Both Pre and Post FEC BER need to be verified in order to determine if the FEC
circuitry is working to correct errors and if so how hard.

DOCSIS 3.0

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34

QAM Constellation Diagram


Constellation Diagram

Each box in the Constellation diagram contains one symbol


QAM64: 6 bits per symbol, 64 boxes
QAM256: 8 bits per symbol, 256 boxes

DOCSIS 3.0

Quadrant 4

Quadrant 1

Quadrant 3

Quadrant 2

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35

Modulation Error Ratio


MER = 10log (avg symbol power/avg error power)

2
N 2

I j j

j 1

MER 10 log 10 N
2
2

I j Q j
j 1

Average error
power

Average symbol
power

A large cloud of
symbol points means
low MERthis is not
good!

A small cloud of
symbol points
means high MER
this is good!

Source: Hewlett-Packard

DOCSIS 3.0

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36

Forward Path Modulation

QAM 64 or QAM 256 are most commonly used

DOCSIS 3.0

Modulation
Type

Std. Symbol
Rate (MHz)

Max data rate


(Mbps)

Annex A
(8MHz)

QAM64

6.952

41.4

Annex A
(8MHz)

QAM256

6.952

55.2

Annex B
(6MHz)

QAM64

5.057

38

Annex B
(6MHz)

QAM256

5.361

43

(220 max 4 channel


bonding)

(160 max 4 channel


bonding)

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37

Return Path Modulation DOCSIS


DOCSIS (Data-Over-Cable Service Interface Specifications)
Reverse Path / Upstream Data Rate
DOCSIS

Bandwidth
(MHz)

Modulation
type

Max data rate


(Mbps)

1.0

3.2

QPSK

5.12

1.1

3.2

QPSK
QAM16

5.12
10.24

2.0

6.4

QAM16
QAM64

10.24
30.72

3.0

6.4

QAM64
QAM128

120
(4 channel bonding)

Standard symbol rate (bandwidth): 1.28 (1.6), 2.56 (3.2), 5.12 (6.4) MHz
DOCSIS 3.0

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38

Constellation Display

DOCSIS 3.0

Learn to interpret the


constellation display it
tells you a lot of the signal

Symbol points should be


small and well-defined

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39

The Adaptive Equalizer

Every MPEG2 digital receiver has an Adaptive Equalizer


The Equalizer typically cascades two digital filters:

Feed Forward Equalizer (FFE) - reference tap is the last of 16 taps

Decision Feedback Equalizer (DFE) - output is fed back to input, 108 taps long

Compensates for Linear distortions (Amplitude imperfections & group delay)


The Equalizer uses MER as a tool to adaptively cancel these Linear distortions

DOCSIS 3.0

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40

Adaptive Equalizer Test Functions

Impairment
Results

Frequency Response &


Group Delay Graphs

Tap Expert

DOCSIS 3.0

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41

Linear Distortions a closer look (1)


What the key measurements are telling you!
Hum
Low frequency disturbances of the digital carrier e.g.
switching power supplies
Phase Jitter
Instability of the QAM carrier seen at the demodulator
Phase changes of oscillators e.g. the up-converter
Introduces a back and forth rotation of the
constellation where some symbols will eventually
cross the decision boundaries and cause an error in
transmission
EVM (Error Vector Magnitude)
A measure of how far constellation points deviate from
their ideal locations.
Ratio of RMS Constellation Error Magnitude to peak
Constellation symbol magnitude
Symbol Rate Error
Should be less than +/- 5pm
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42

Linear Distortions a closer look (2)


What the measurement is telling you!
Frequency Response

Frequency response of the digital carrier

Micro-reflections can cause amplitude ripple in the


frequency response

Should be less than 3dB (peak-to-peak)

Group Delay

Different frequencies travel through the same medium at


different speeds (see supporting slide)

Worse near band edges and diplex filter roll-off areas

Group Delay variation is usually expressed in ns for the


Downstream and in ns / MHz for the Upstream

Should be < 50ns peak-to-peak

General Notes:

Amplitude and Group Delay responses help visualize the effects of filters, diplexers, traps, suck-outs in the
signal path, from (and including) the QAM modulator up to the point of test.
The frequency span of the calculated responses is directly related to sampling period of the Equalizer
Symbol period. For QAM-64, the span response is 5.05 MHz, while for QAM256 the span is 5.36 MHz
DOCSIS 3.0

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43

Linear Distortions a closer look (3)


What the measurement is telling you!
Echo Margin

Echoes are micro-reflections

The tallest vertical bar is the incident signal (reference tap)

Smallest difference between any coefficient and the


DOCSIS template defined by CableLabs

Safety margin when getting too close to the cliff effect

Should ideally be > 6dB

Equalizer Stress

Derived from all the Equalizer coefficients

Indicates how hard the Equalizer is working to cancel out the


Linear distortions

Global indicator (the higher the figure, the less stress)

Noise Margin

DOCSIS 3.0

Generally, the lower the MER, the larger the probability of


errors in transmission (Pre-FEC and Post FEC)

Amount of noise that can safely be added to degrade the


Equalized MER before losing the signal (cliff effect)

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44

Linear Distortions

Micro-reflection at about 2.5 s (2500 ns):


Assume ~1 ns per ft., 2500/2 = 1250 ft
(actual is 1.17 ns per ft: (2500/1.17)/2 = 1068 ft)

Frequency response ripple ~400 kHz p-p:


Distance to fault = 492 x (.87/.400) = 1070 ft.
DOCSIS 3.0

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45

Operational RF Levels

DOCSIS recommends that the digitally modulated


signals average power level be set 6 dB to 10 dB
below what the visual carrier level of an analog TV
channel on the same frequency would be

This ratio should be maintained throughout the entire


cable network

DOCSIS 3.0

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46

DOCSIS 3.0 CM Emulation Link Up


Step-by-step CM link up
process to clearly identify any
failed steps

After link up, power level on


forward and return paths are
measured.

DOCSIS 3.0

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47

DOCSIS 3.0 CM IP Tests (1)


Complete server connection
status indicates any IP
problems

Once the CM is on-line, a full


range of IP tests including
Ping test can be performed

DOCSIS 3.0

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DOCSIS 3.0 CM IP Tests (2)


Throughput (FTP) Download
and Upload should be verified
at the CM service location.

Web Test and Web Browser


provide bandwidth and visual
indications of performance

DOCSIS 3.0

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49

DOCSIS 3.0 CM VoIP Tests (1)


VoIP Expert generates
industry standard wave files
to verify MOS and R-Factor of
upstream and downstream
and includes packet jitter,
packet loss, and delay.

Real-time of subjective voice


quality evaluation (MOS and
R-factor) using the Telchemy
Algorithm and test method is
provided
DOCSIS 3.0

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50

DOCSIS 3.0 CM VoIP Tests (2)


Detailed Packet statistics
provide a complete insight to
transport and IP layer
impairments

Jitter performance is checked


using the Inter Packet Delay
Variation (IPDV) method per
RFC3393 recommendations

DOCSIS 3.0

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51

DOCSIS 3.0 Ethernet Tests (1)


Ethernet Testing is important to
validate business services, E1
circuit emulation or Wireless
backhaul applications (E1/T1/IP)

Copper (10/100/1000BaseT)
& Fiber (1000BaseX) based
Ethernet service should be
verified

DOCSIS 3.0

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52

DOCSIS 3.0 Ethernet Tests (2)


RFC2544, BERT, & Throughput
test modes are used to test
Ethernet circuits running at the
subscriber premise or in the core
network at Headend locations

Advanced traffic generation


and detailed analysis is used
to check and benchmark all
types of Ethernet service
offered at customer locations.
DOCSIS 3.0

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53

DOCSIS 3.0 Pre-Qualification


Spectrum analysis (Upstream & Downstream)
Bonded channel statistics (Upstream & Downstream)

Constellation analysis (Upstream & Downstream)


Equalizer measurements (Upstream & Downstream)
Group delay and Frequency response (Upstream & Downstream)

Cable Modem Emulation (Bonding, Encryption, BPI certificates, etc)


IP & Ethernet Tests (Ping, Throughput, Web Browser, VoIP, RFC2544)
DOCSIS 3.0

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54

How Many Testers Do You Need?

Signal
Level
Meter

DOCSIS 3.0
CM Analyzer

QAM-64
USG
Source

Digital
Spectrum
Analyzer

Group
delay &
frequency
response
tester

CX380
can do
it all

DOCSIS 3.0

Adaptive
equalizer
tester

Ethernet
Tester

CX350
can do
it all

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55

RF Test Checklist
Constellation
display

Pre / Post
FEC BER

Linear
Distortions

Signal Level
problems

Transient
Impairments

Low MER or
CNR

Sweep
transmitter
interference

Adaptive
equalizer
graph

Analog
channel
signal level

Pre/Post-FEC
BER

Phase noise

Laser
clipping

In-channel
frequency
response

Digital
channel
power

Constellation
display

I-Q
imbalance

Loose
connections

In-channel
group delay

Upstream
transmit level

Upstream
packet loss

Coherent
interference
(ingress)

CPD

Constellation
display
Unequalized

Constellation
display

Gain
compression

Low MER or
CNR

MER
Unequalized

Equalizer
Graph

Microreflections

Laser
clipping

Sweep
transmitter
interference
DOCSIS 3.0

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56

Troubleshooting
Integrated Up-converter

Verify correct average power level

Integrated up-converter RF output should be set in the DOCSIS-specified +50 to


+61dBmV range

Typical levels are +55 to +58dBmV

Also check BER, MER and constellation

CMTS

To headend downstream
combiner
Attenuator
(if required)

88-860 MHz downstream


RF output
(+50 dBmV to +61 dBmV)

DOCSIS 3.0

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57

Troubleshooting
External Up-converter

Verify correct Power level, BER, MER and Constellation

CMTS downstream IF output

External up-converter IF input

External up-converter RF output

CMTS
44 MHz IF input to
upconverter
(typ. +25 dBmV to +35
dBmV)

44 MHz downstream
IF output
(e.g., +42 dBmV +/-2 dB)

DOCSIS 3.0

Attenuator

88-860 MHz downstream


RF output to CATV network
(+50 dBmV to +61 dBmV)

RF upconverter

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Combiner Output and Fiber Link

Check signal levels and BER at downstream laser input and node output

Bit errors present at downstream laser input but not at CMTS or up-converter
output may indicate sweep transmitter interference, loose connections or
combiner problems

Bit errors at node output but not at laser input are most likely caused by
downstream laser clipping

DOCSIS 3.0

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59

Troubleshooting Tips

Residential wireless
networks may limit
DOCSIS 3.0
performance benefits

Routers, Switches,
and Ethernet cards
can limit bandwidth to
100Mbps or 10Mbps

PC performance can
effect or limit
throughput

Ensure Test
Equipment has
sufficient bandwidth
to perform high
throughput test

Speed test servers


can skew throughput
results

Hardware settings
can effect bandwidth
e.g. MTU size

DOCSIS 3.0

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60

Essential Technical Terms


to Remember

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61

QAM Measurement Terms (1)

I/Q Gain and Phase

The phase and gain of both the I and Q carrier must be equal in order for the
constellation to be correct.

This impairment is caused by the QAM modulators.

The gain difference between the 2 carriers should be less than 1.8% and the phase
difference should be less than 1 degree.

Phase Noise

Jitter (changes in phase) of the oscillators, most likely the up-converter

The phase shift or jitter should be < 0.5 degrees

DOCSIS 3.0

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QAM Measurement Terms (2)

Hum

Low frequency disturbances of the digital carrier

Same as hum on analog carriers, if the level is the same, its the system, if higher on the
digitals then its probably the QAM modulator

Symbol Rate Error

Should be < +/- 5ppm

Echo Margin

A measurement in dB of how far the taps are from the template with the time equalizer
measurement.

Caused by impedance mismatches in the system.

Should be > 6dB

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QAM Measurement Terms (3)

Group Delay

Different frequencies travel through the same medium at different speeds. So the lower
the lower frequencies of the same carrier arrive at the receiver at different timing than
the higher frequencies.

Should be < 50ns peak-to-peak

Frequency Response

Frequency response of the digital carrier

Should be < 3dB peak-to-peak

Carrier Offset

Carrier frequency test.

Should be no more than +/- 25KHz

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Group Delay - Return Path


5 MHz

5 MHz

10 MHz

10 MHz

15 MHz

40 MHz
45 MHz
50 MHz

55 MHz
60 MHz
65 MHz
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15 MHz

20 MHz

25 MHz
35 MHz

10 MHz

15 MHz

20 MHz
30 MHz

5 MHz

20 MHz

25 MHz
HFC
(Filters,
Taps)

30 MHz
35 MHz

40 MHz

25 MHz
HFC
(Filters,
Taps)

45 MHz
50 MHz

55 MHz
60 MHz
65 MHz
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30 MHz
35 MHz

40 MHz
45 MHz
50 MHz

55 MHz
60 MHz
65 MHz

65

Linear Distortions
In-Depth Understanding
ECHO MARGIN
The Coefficients of the Equalizer will also reveal the presence of an Echo, (a.k.a. micro-reflections). The Equalizer
will cancel such an echo, and in doing so, the equalizer coefficient which corresponds to the delay of the echo will
be much higher than the surrounding ones, it sticks out of the grass. The relative amplitude of this coefficient is
an indication of the seriousness of the echo, and its position gives the delay of the echo, hence its roundtrip
distance.
The Echo Margin is the smallest difference between any coefficients and a template defined by Cablelabs, as a
safety margin before getting too close to the cliff effect. It is normal to notice relatively high coefficients close
to the Reference as this corresponds to the filters in the modulator / demodulator pair and to the shape of QAM
signal.
EQUALIZER STRESS
The Equalizer Stress is derived from the Equalizer coefficients and indicate how much the Equalizer has to work to
cancel the Linear distortions, it is a global indicator of Linear distortions. The higher the figure, the less stress.
NOISE MARGIN
We all know that the lower the MER, the larger the probabilities of errors in transmission (Pre-FEC and then PostFEC); the MER degrades until errors are so numerous that adequate signal recovery is no more possible (cliff
effect). As Noise is a major contributor to the MER, we define Noise Margin as the amount of noise that can be
added to a signal (in other words, how much we can degrade MER) before get dangerously close to the cliff effect.
Noise is chosen because on the one hand it is always present, and on the other hand it is mathematically
tractable. Other impairments, such as an Interferer, are not easily factored into error probabilities.
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Linear Distortions
In-Depth Understanding
EQUALIZED MER vs. UN-EQUALIZED MER
The MER (Modulation Error Ratio) is the ratio of the QAM signal to Non-Linear distortions of the incoming QAM
signal. The MER should have included the Linear distortions to indicate the health of the signal; but the QAM
demodulator cannot operate properly without the Equalizer and the Equalizer uses the MER as a tool to
adaptively cancel the Linear distortions. Consequently it is convenient to distinguish the MER (non-linear
distortions only) from an Un-equalized MER (non-linear and linear distortions), the Un-equalized MER is
calculated from the MER and Equalizer Stress.
The Un-equalized MER is always worst than the MER. A small difference between the two indicates little Linear
distortions, a large difference shows that there are strong Linear distortions. Even if the Linear distortions are
cancelled by the Equalizer, we have to keep in mind that the Equalization is a dynamic process as it tracks Linear
distortions by trial and error even after converging. The larger the Linear distortions the larger the tracking
transients are, hence more probability of transmission error (pre-FEC or Post-FEC BER).
PHASE JITTER
Phase Jitter is caused by instability of the carrier of the QAM signal at the demodulator. This instability could be
found at the QAM modulator and up-converter or in the QAM receiver (Local Oscillators used in frequency
conversions). The phase jitter introduces a rotation of the constellation, where the symbols clusters elongate and
get closer to the symbols boundary. Eventually some symbols will cross the boundary and cause an error in
transmission. The QAM demodulator has a Phase lock loop to track phase variations of the carrier; it tracks easily
long term drift as well as some short terms variations (up to 10 or 30 kHz) but it cannot track very fast variations
above its loop response. So in a QAM demodulator, the wideband jitter is more damageable than short term
jitter.
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Recommended Reading

Hranac, R. Digital Troubleshooting, Part 1 Communications Technology, June


2006
www.cable360.net/ct/operations/testing/15092.html

Hranac, R. Troubleshooting Digitally Modulated Signals, Part 2


Communications Technology, July 2006
www.cable360.net/ct/operations/testing/18539.html

Hranac, R. Linear Distortions, Part 1 Communications Technology, July 2005


www.cable360.net/ct/operations/testing/15131.html

Hranac, R. Linear Distortions, Part 2 Communications Technology, August 2005

www.cable360.net/ct/operations/testing/15170.html

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Thank You.
Any questions?

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