Jeff Baumgartner, senior editor at Light Reading, made an eye-popping statement in a recent blog post, “Cable upstream channel purchases almost doubled in Q4 2020—Dell’Oro,” about adoption of XGS-PON among cable operators. As he noted, “XGS-PON OLT port shipments notched a new record, as port shipments climbed an astounding 433 percent year-over-year, and jumped 77 percent when compared to Q3 2020.”
Let’s unpack this impressive statistic. While cable operators will continue to leverage their existing DOCSIS networks—and some will make moves to invest toward DOCSIS 4.0—many are moving to a blended network, deploying fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) 10G PON technologies like XGS-PON as an overlay to their coaxial. At Calix, we are finding that some cable companies view XGS-PON and DOCSIS technologies as complementary—different ways to enable their subscribers with broadband.
What’s driving this enormous growth? Here are the top four reasons cable operators are deploying 10G XGS-PON.
1) The pandemic created huge demand for upstream bandwidth consumption.
The COVID-19 shutdowns resulted in significant behavioral changes as work from home and e-learning increased substantially. The OpenVault Broadband Insights Report found that total upstream consumption surged 63 percent in 2020. And one percent of the users accounted for 30 percent of the upstream usage!
The pandemic drove network planners to revisit near-term and long-term network forecasts for access and aggregation capacity, with many companies deciding to augment their networks to reflect the “new normal.” XGS-PON has proven to be the de factor standard for many operators—giving them the bandwidth and flexibility they need to meet their customers’ needs for the life of the investment.
2) Competition has surged.
2020 brought a new appreciation for fiber, particularly from the capital markets. A surge of investment has flowed into the broadband sector over the past 18 months. Many cable operators in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets that previously had no meaningful rivals for their coaxial networks found themselves gearing up for long-term battle with deep-pocketed fiber builders. The asymmetric 100M offering, combined with the huge unending increase in upstream traffic, are exposing older DOCSIS networks. Cable operators have found a FTTH 10G XGS-PON overlay network to be a relatively seamless approach enabling them to quickly bring high-speed symmetric broadband to their market. Operators can create a wide variety of bandwidth tiers, and the increase in upstream bandwidth that comes with symmetrical service creates excitement with their customers. In the meantime, operators can continue to work through their HFC upgrades—operating a blended network of DOCSIS and fiber-based PON.
3) Backoffice integration or middleware to provision PON in a DOCSIS BOSS is lacking.
Used to be, if you were a cable operator and you wanted to introduce PON into your network, you’d have to hire software developers to create middleware to sit between the PON management system (the OMCI) and the DOCSIS provisioning system. Calix cracked the code with the introduction of DPx, the industry’s first DOCSIS Provisioning Connector. DPx, an element within the AXOS software platform, allows cable operators to provision PON services with no modification to the existing DOCSIS provisioning system. In addition, DPx gives the operator visibility into the customer support systems frequently used by many regional operators—further reducing the need for any operational modifications when introducing PON into the network. DPx simplifies the cable operator’s business, allowing you to quickly introduce high-speed broadband to your customers with minimal disruptions to your existing business processes.
4) Operators are serving multiple customer segments.
The fourth driver behind the huge increase in XGS-PON adoption is the increasing realization within the broadband industry that PON technologies like XGS-PON and NG-PON2 can be leveraged for multiple customer segments beyond residential—SMB, enterprise, and wholesale. Some cable operators are deploying a PON overlay in their markets for higher-bandwidth small and medium-sized business customers. Others are deploying a blended network to utilize the PON for saturated HFC networks. Regardless of the initial use case driving the PON overlay, however, operators are deploying those networks with the expectation of serving a variety of customer types.
Learn more about Calix solutions for cable operators; register here to watch the on-demand recording of this virtual event, “The Move toward 10G PON.”