Improving HFC Performance with Proactive Network Maintenance (PMN)

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Improving HFC Performance with Proactive Network Maintenance (PMN)

 

Cable operators have long known the benefits of having more fiber in their Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) plant, and for some, especially so, as they have taken fiber all the way to the premises in greenfield deployments. They have seen firsthand that an all-fiber network means less day-to-day maintenance of the plant, a better quality signal, and less downtime. It's also easier to offer faster speeds over fiber, especially symmetrical speeds.

However, while many cable operators are deploying fiber in new areas, most are not abandoning their HFC plant just yet. In fact, according to the most recent "2050 Project" report from ATX, 48% of respondents said their most aggressive timeframe for completely replacing their HFC network with all fiber was six to ten years, with 37% saying 11 to 20 years. These cable operators, at least for now, plan on making the most of their DOCSIS cable plants for many years to come due to the expense of overbuilding the last mile of their HFC plant with fiber to the prem.

For those sticking with HFC for now, it's more important than ever that they squeeze every bit of performance they can out of the "C" part of that HFC plant, and find ways to improve their maintenance methodology so they can better compete with the increased reliability and reduced costs that an all-fiber network provides. DOCSIS Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM) is a methodology and toolset that can do just that by allowing cable operators to find and address hidden impairment before they impact subscribers, while improving the overall health and efficiency of their cable plant. 

In addition to proactive network maintenance, some PNM tools can also show an operator which parts of their plant are ready for a DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade, which will be needed to offer higher speeds to subscribers even before considering DOCSIS 4.0.  For plants that have deployed DOCSIS 3.1, some PMN applications also support Profile Management Application (PMA), which is a utility that creates optimized OFDM/OFDMA profiles for every subcarrier on every channel. This can lead to a 15% to 40% capacity increase on a channel that otherwise might default to 256K-QAM, which can translate to 200 to 400 Mbps extra capacity on each OFDM channel.

In short, PNM not only reduces maintenance costs, but it improves the quality of the signal on the plant, increases throughput, and reduces unplanned outages. These are all important factors when competing head to head against fiber.

More resources on Proactive Network Maintenance 



 

About the Author: Rick Yuzzi

Rick Yuzzi
Rick is ZCorum's Vice President of Marketing. He has over 30 years experience in sales, marketing and management. Hired in 1995 to establish the sales department for a fledgling Internet Service Provider that later became ZCorum, he is now a key member of the executive team, overseeing the company’s marketing efforts.

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