March 14, 2019 by Doug Blue

The Time is Now for PON


The year is 1982 and the radio is playing, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” Remember the Gap Band? I certainly do. And if you don’t, take a moment and give it a quick listen – don’t blame me if it’s on your brain for days. Even my 9-year-old son appreciates the harmonic and lyrical genius of this one-hit wonder as it is now an integral part of our morning wake-up ritual. Every time I hear the song, I can’t help but think about someone hearing shocking news for the very first time.   

Later today, perhaps even as you read this, I will be sitting on a panel at the Light Reading’s Cable Next Gen show in Denver, Colorado discussing “Fiber’s Fabulous Future.” During which, rest assured, I’ll be humming the chorus of, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” So, what on Earth could be so shocking about cable operators deploying more optical fiber? Let me explain. 

Over the past three decades, cable operators have masterfully leveraged their HFC (that’s hybrid fiber coax) infrastructure to meet the bandwidth demands of their subscribers by making incremental network improvements – node segmentation, DOCSIS iterations, improved video compression, etc. But incremental investments made today can easily become the regrettable spend of tomorrow. The road to a bright future is not always exactly what one might think.   

Cable operators, when faced with future technology and architecture choices have approached the holy grail of network infrastructure, fiber-to-the-home, as a digital decision – either all in or not at all. Recently, however, there has been a shift in industry thinking – perhaps operators could take a hybrid approach.   

Calix and CCI Systems recently completed a detailed analysis using a hybrid approach to cable network upgrades. It was found that a network evolutionary path that leverages both modest HFC upgrades along with a Passive Optical Network (PON) that serviced high-bandwidth consumers ended up costing 60 percent less than other network upgrade approaches. Don’t believe me? Learn more about the analysis and conclusions during an interview conducted from the show floor at the NCTC Winter Educational Conference last month or if you prefer, sign up here to be one of the first to get the detailed white paper.