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Hybrid

Fiber-Coaxial Networks:
Technology and Challenges in Deploying
Mul?-Gigabit Access Services

Kevin A. Noll

Network Structure
Most networks are constructed as a 4-level hierarchy
Backbone
Regional
Metro
Access

Hub

Hub

Hub

Hub

Hub

Hub

Na#onal Backbone

Hub

Hub

Regional Network
Metro Area Network

Hub

Access Network

Access Network
The largest component of the network in terms of
Physical/Geographic Size
Monetary Investment
TWC
Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) Access Network
125,000 Fiber Route Miles

Fiber
Hub
1,130 Hubs

344,000 Coax Plant Miles

Coax
Node

Amplier

95,600 Fiber
Nodes

1.9M RF
Ampliers

Coax

30 M Coax
Connectors

HFC Network Components and Topology


Hub Fiber Optic Cable

Aerial Coax Feeder Cable

<20 km
QAMs
Card

CMTS
Card

TX
RX

RX
FP

Amplier

Node

TX
RX

Spli\er

Underground Coax Feeder Cable

~ 800 [

Tap

Drop Cable
~100 [

TV #2
Stereo
Set-top
TV #1

Hub

Node

Tap

Func?ons in the Hub


Recep?on of Video Signals from Content
Networks/Programmers
IP Connec?vity to Metro/Regional Networks
Modula?on of Downstream Signals as
QAM (digital) or
VSB+DSB+SSB+FM (Analog)

Pre-Condi?oning of Downstream Signals to


combat impairments in the op?cal and RF
network
Decoding of Upstream QAM/QPSK Signals
Conversion of RF Signals to/from Intensity
Modulated Op?cal Signals for long-distance
transmission

Func?ons of a Node and Amplier


HFC Node
performs OE conversion of RF signals
to/from hub
can be located 50km or more from
the hub

Trunk/Distribu?on Amplier
performs amplica?on of the RF
signal a[er being degraded during
transmission over coaxial cable
May be cascaded 5-deep past the
node (node+N architecture)
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Func?ons of the Tap and Drop


Tap
A mul?port RF device that passes a
specied amount of RF energy to a
TAP port and passes the majority of
RF energy from the INPUT to the
THRU port
Used to create a branch from the trunk
coaxial cable to a subscribers premises

Drop
The coaxial cable that a\aches the
subscribers premises to the tap port

HFC Powering

Power Inserter
RX
FP

Node

Amplier

The HFC Node and Ampliers are electronic


devices that require electrical power.
Power Supplies placed at regular intervals
along the coaxial network provide power to
the node and ampliers
Power Inser?on devices are used to couple
AC and/or DC power to the same conductors
carrying the RF signal

The Coaxial Network is ALSO a power


distribu?on network
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Capabili?es of a Typical HFC Network


Downstream 54-750 MHz
116 x 6 MHz Channels = 4.3Gbps @ 256 SC-QAM (single carrier)
~ 6 bits/Hz

Upstream 5-42 MHz


~ 4 x 6 MHz Channels usable = 100 Mbps throughput @ 64 SC-QAM
~ 2 bits/Hz

Typical 750 MHz System


Downstream

Upstream
5 MHz

42 MHz 54 MHz

O H
P S
E D
N

750 MHz

Analog Services
65 slots

Digital Services
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HSD
5

6 MHz = 1 slot
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Increasing Capacity and Throughput


Three basic components inuence network capacity
Load

The Pipe

Serving Group Size

Load = The amount of data requested and sent by users on the network
Pipe = Throughput and Capacity available in the network
Serving Group Size = the # of users sharing the Pipe

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Increasing Capacity and Throughput


1) Expand the Pipe

Plant Upgrade (e.g. 750 MHz to 1 GHz)


Analog Reclama#on
Plant Hardening

2) Reduce # of users sharing the Pipe (smaller serving groups)


Segmenta#on / Node Splits

3) Reduce the Load (Use the pipe more eciently)


MPEG-4 / Next Genera#on Encoding
DOCSIS 3.1
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Reducing Serving Group Size


Node Split

BEFORE
Fiber Optic Cable
<20 km
QAMs
Card

CMTS
Card

TX
RX
TX
RX

RX
FP

Node

AFTER
Fiber Optic Cable
<20 km
QAMs
Card

CMTS
Card

RX
FP

Node
TX
RX

Reduces Serving Group


Size by adding HFC
Nodes and CMTS ports
to serve the same
number of users

Increases Capacity ONLY


Does NOT Increase
Peak/Oered Speed

TX
RX
RX
FP

Node
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Expand the Pipe Reclaim Spectrum


Legacy Analog Signals are inecient users of spectrum
5% eciency compared to MPEG-4
Typically can occupy 50% of the available spectrum

Replace Analog with Digital Signals that are more ecient


MPEG-encoded Video on QAM can carry 2-20x more content than an
analog channel

Contractual Concerns must be sa?sed


Franchise Agreements, Market Recogni?on, Must-Carry Agreements may
be impacted by conversion of analog to digital
Deploy DTA to all subscribers who do not have Set-Top-Boxes (CAPEX $$,
OPEX $$)

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Expand the Pipe Use the Unusable


Some operators avoid using sensi?ve frequencies
108-137 MHz Aeronau?cal Mobile and Aeronau?cal Radio Naviga?on
328-355 MHz Aeronau?cal Glideslope frequencies

Requires Plant Hardening to ensure no leakage of signals from


the coax plant

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Expand the Pipe More Spectrum


Expand the Available Spectrum
Move the upper limit to 1GHz or higher
Move the US/DS split
Moniker

Upstream Frequency Descrip#on

Sub-Split

5-43 MHz

Most used today

Mid-Split

5-85 MHz

Reasonable op?on

High-Split

5-200 MHz

Dicult and Expensive

Top-Split

>1 GHz

Much higher CPE cost

Requires heavy-duty network upgrades

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Expand the Pipe More Spectrum


Nodes, Ampliers, Filters
All operate with a specic frequency-split
All must be re-congured
or replaced if not compa?ble with the new split
Sample Amplifier Specification

Sample Node Specification

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Use the Pipe More Eciently


Be\er Compression Algorithms
Reduces RAW load on the network

Higher-Order Modula?on and FEC


Modula#on

Eciency
Bit Rate per 6 MHz
(bits/symbol)
(Mbps)

Required SNR
(dB)

64 QAM

>5

~27

>18

256 QAM

>7

~40

>24

1024 QAM

>9

~50

>30

OFDM w/
4096 QAM

~65

Adapted from Chapman, Emmendorfer, Howald, Shulman, Mission is Possible:


An Evolutionary Approach to Gigabit-Class DOCSIS, NCTA, May 2012
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Use the Pipe More Eciently


How to Achieve Be\er SNR? Plant Hardening
Upstream RF level
management issues

Leaky gaskets,
damaged housing

Headend
TX

RX

Hi

RX

TX

Lo

Reflective
optical splice

Aging transistors,
capacitors, integrated
circuits

Power supply
Noise & Hum
Strand Corrosion
Broken lashing wire
Corrosion of
Housing

Squirrel and
rodent damage

Cracked or
Poor splices, no
Unterminated taps,
weather seal
deformed coax
loose terminations
Corrosion of
Radial cracks due to
Laser clipping
coax
improperly formed
expansion loop
Optical reflections Signal leakage
Dirty connectors
Corroded or loose
Misalignment
Poor or nonconnectors
FP Lasers
existent
resulting in Common path
grounding
distortion
Ingress:
Ham & Shortwave, CB, paging systems
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Plant Hardening

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These tac?cs have enabled us to grow our max HSD speeds


by ~300 over the last ~15 years (1 Mbps to 300 Mbps)
Max Downstream Speeds (Mbps)
350

300

300

300
250
200
150

100

100
50

50
1

10

50

100

50

20

1996 2001 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

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How long can we keep it up?


Max Downstream Speeds (Mbps)
350

300 300

300
250
200
150

100 100

100
50

10 20

50 50 50

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Q&A

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