Channel bonding

As more content becomes available, cable operators seek cost effective ways to offer better bandwidth.
Delivery & Transmission


Opportunities for virtually unlimited programming choices, content personalisation and greater viewer mobility are now on the horizon. Cable operators looking for economical ways to upgrade their delivery networks and provide consumers with dramatically higher broadband speeds, can leverage these technologies to build a sustainable advantage in an increasingly crowded marketplace for service differentiation.

Modular cable modem termination systems (M-CMTS) are proving to be successful in accommodating emerging trends such as delivery of video over EuroDOCSIS. This article demonstrates how-in conjunction with M-CMTS-EuroDOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding can deliver consumers bandwidth beyond what has been traditionally possible, to enable IP video services that may not otherwise have been economically or technically viable.

Channel bonding-designed to allow cable operators to provide customers more bandwidth than competitors can support-can enable speeds of 160 Mbps or more in the downstream direction and 120 Mbps upstream. By making this amount of IP-based capacity available to subscribers, operators could potentially create high-definition video experiences with interfaces similar to Internet-based features, or new peer-to-peer applications such as file swapping and interactive games.

Channel bonding has the potential to bring networking capacity typically associated with a medium-sized business to a single residential subscriber. This increase in performance is achieved using EuroDOCSIS 3.0 modems that access three, four, or more Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) channels, bonding them together to create a "super pipe".

Any evaluation of migration paths to higher network performance must take into consideration return on investment. The first question that may arise in this analysis is how many subscribers are going to feel that the benefits of channel bonding are worth the price. Some subscribers, such as small business owners, may rush to take advantage of the benefits of channel bonding, while others may take longer to decide if the additional bandwidth is necessary.

This is where modularisation of CMTS platforms has a key role to play. M-CMTS can allow cable operators to upgrade their networks to support channel bonding gradually by building an overlay network if spectrum allows, or simply replacing equipment in markets where channel bonding is expected to be a significant revenue opportunity. The overlay scenario is perhaps the most compelling solution. The overlay can allow for business-as-usual growth to be accommodated by a new M-CMTS platform, and also leverage the benefits of channel bonding on a network-wide basis with minimal cost and operational issues for the operator.

M-CMTS is widely regarded as a highly economical path to advanced IP services and wider bandwidths via channel bonding. The modular approach allows operators to upgrade the functionality of an M-CMTS architecture on a "pay and grow as you go" basis, on a path to full EuroDOCSIS 3.0 implementations. M-CMTS designs can re-use much of the EuroDOCSIS 2.0 assets already deployed, such as existing EuroDOCSIS modems and media terminal adaptors (MTAs) and CMTS interface modules needed for upstream / downstream communications.

Some M-CMTS platforms are designed to provide subscribers with downstream speeds in excess of40 Mbps to EuroDOCSIS 2.0 (and older) modems, while enabling 160 Mbps bit rates to EuroDOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding ones, from the same chassis. This allows cable operators to offer higher speeds to customers that aren't ready for channel bonding, without requiring truck rolls when they are. Subscribers benefit, therefore, from having greater flexibility in choosing when to upgrade to EuroDOCSIS 3.0 cable modems.

Intensive competition is motivating cable operators to embrace a new paradigm of IP-based delivery of video, voice and data services. As new technologies such as channel bonding and Modular CMTS are implemented, subscribers can begin to benefit from online experiences transformed by broader service choices, quicker interactions with the internet, and greater convenience.

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